• Few or No Friends

How can a woman working in a male-dominated industry find new friends?

Published: November 14, 2015 | By | 9 Replies Continue Reading
A family death and the loss of a best friend lead to a female engineer wanting of new friends.


Hi Irene,

I’m a 62-year-old female (married) engineer, working many hours a week in a male-dominated field. My husband, also an engineer working at the same company, works even more hours than I do and I rarely see him before I go to bed at 11:30pm.

My mother died three years ago and two years ago my best friend retired, moved away, and doesn’t return my messages.

Most coworkers in my workplace are about 30 years younger than me and I never get asked to a social event. Many people my age retire but I can’t afford to yet.

I have an adorable but too “protective” German Shepherd, who requires a lot of my spare time, and does not like people over to the house. Can you suggest a way for me to try to connect with someone to make friends? Thank you ahead of time for any consideration of my situation.

Signed, Margene


Hi Margene,

It sounds like you are in a bit of a rut. Opportunities to connect with female friends at work are limited given the gender imbalance in your field and workplace. The age/stage of life discrepancy between you and the younger people you work is also challenging; It is likely you have different interests than most coworkers who are three decades younger.

With your husband’s long work hours, the death of your mother and the loss of your best friend, I can understand how you would want to seek out new friends with whom to connect and spend your leisure time.

Since you are a dog lover, one possibility would be to identify some clubs of German shepherd owners. I did a cursory search on the web and noticed there are groups of dog owners (sometimes associated with a particular breed), both on Facebook and in various communities.

Another thought: Weather permitting, is there a dog park in our neighborhood where you could meet other dog owners?

Do you have any other interests that would place you in situations in your neighborhood where you could meet new people outside your home? For example, is there a senior center that offers a class you would like to take? A book group at the local library? A volunteer or religious organization that could use your help for a few hours on the weekend?

These aren’t immediate solutions to finding friends but regular participation in something outside of work would offer a change of pace and bring you in contact with a greater pool of potential friends. However, since your spare time is so limited, be careful not to spread yourself too thin. Try to select one outlet that piques your interest. I also wondered whether you might be able to coax your husband out of the house on weekends to see a movie or enjoy dinner out at a restaurant.

Hope this offers a few ideas.

My best, Irene

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Category: HAVING NO FRIENDS, Making friends at 60

Comments (9)

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  1. Ruth says:

    Margene there are lots of groups for women who code who would LOVE to have you. Google girls who code and women who code and find a meetup in your area. Once it hits them they have a true female coding pioneer they will be elated. You have much to offer such a group and could volunteer to mentor someone. Best wishes!

  2. Amy F says:

    Throughout my life, some of my closest friends have been males. The relationships have alway been strictly platonic and I’ve been friends with many of their spouses as well. Sometimes you have to take advantage of what’s available and convenient as a springboard to making closer relationships. Don’t discount other women because of age. Intergenerational friendships can offer a great balance of energy and experience. Your age is an opportunity to mentor newer and younger coworkers. Although you miss your friend, you might not find another relationship exactly like hers, but you can gain a lot from friends in different lifecycle phases.

    Do you and your husband socialize with other couples? Perhaps you can invite a coworker and spouse/partner out for dinner some Saturday night. Don’t just think in your age group, widen your circle.

  3. lua says:

    Ugh. I also work in the tech field and most of the people are 10 plus years younger. It’s mostly male dominated. The women whom work there are very cliquish. The engineers are mostly male and also cliquish. It’s a small company with typical start up culture. I have no friends at this job, so I feel you. None of them have made any effort to get to know me and I have worked there almost 4 years. I also think they since I am non-technical I am not cool enough to be seen with them. Believe me I have tried to engage in small talk but they are socially inept. So with that, I pretty much gave up and don’t talk to anyone at work anymore. If you can, don’t put in more than 8 hours a day and find something you enjoy doing outside of work. See if your husband can cut back too. No job is worth this. I finally decided I am having a life outside of work. I relocated back to my area after 20 years of living out of state, only to realize my old friends were either out of the area, busy raising families, or just simply moved on. So I understand trying to make new friends. Plus the commute is long, 3 hours per day. So with that, limited time. The tech field is not age friendly at all. They don’t say it, but you know it’s there. Not being invited to lunch or anything is a sign. I am looking for another job in a different field and goal is to go to grad school. Good luck with your situation.

    • ruth says:

      I also am non-techie in a technical environment. I work for a software company. I agree that there is a not good enough vibe being sent out. Actually just last week I told my manager 2 levels up if she needed anything while she was out of the office this week to contact me and I’ll take care of it for her. She smiled at me like I was 5 years old and said, ok if I need so-and-so I’ll ask you go to get him. What is that? Anyway that is business related but on a personal level, I find it very difficult to connect whether men or women. They don’t want to do anything like Secret Santa and we can barely get a potluck thrown together during the holidays. The A list goes to baseball games or hockey games on their down dime though; the last 2 games were the first in over 20 years they invited anyone outside their circle. I totally empathize with where you are. In my personal life I am active in art, both creating and supporting local artists. I mentor several ladies as well who are incarcerated; it has been such a joy to me. If it were up to my co-workers to provide social interaction I would have died from neglect many years ago. I never had this in my prior industry but the tech industry is just like this.

      • lua says:

        Wow, so it’s not just me. That manager sounds condescending. In fact, yesterday morning I got into a huge email argument with a manager whom automatically sided with a client whom compained about something that my department was not responsible for. She tried to dump off the project on me, which is 1. Not my job and 2. Not my fault this was not handled. So yeah, shit like that. I don’t report directly to her, but she has a lot of power. People have argued with her too. However, people have also lost their jobs. I am not afraid of her. But I had little to no support. So it’s a constant battle.

  4. CountryBoy says:

    Margene; A circle of friends changes constantly during our life time through different circumstances in our lives. Just as it does in others.
    You are married and the first thing you have to focus on is your husband as your best friend. Seems like you have some loneliness in your marriage and looking to fill the gap. Everyone goes sometimes through that, but with some communication between partners it usually can get resolved. If you both work long hours there is maybe a lack of time for each other. Ask yourself is working long hours all worth it?
    In marriage couples has to find time for each and “live it up” once and a while. Act like teenagers again.
    Tempest has a few good suggestions you can follow up. Walking your dog you might run in to people with similar interest. That’s what I do and chat to them. Couples usual seek other couples as friends but sometime one partner has not always the same things in common as the other. If you can’t find a friend in the couple circles join a hobby club of your interest. Also there are lots of widows who might look for someone to talk too. It might take time to find someone with similar interest you have. My wife and I have lots of hobbies she has her things and I mine. And we do lots of things together at 69. Good luck in finding friendship.

  5. Tempest says:

    You might also try going to the cafeteria (or kitchen) when people get coffee or lunch and finding friendly people to connect with, even just to chat. Or bring in a treat like chocolates and have them near your office so people stop by and say hi and get a chocolate. Could be disruptive to work but it’s also “team building” and good association for you.

    • ruth says:

      I would LOVE it if my tech company had a cafeteria or real kitchen! They designed not one but two buidlings with teeny weeny kitchens and no tables /chairs for anyone to relax or mingle/socialize, or even eat lunch. It’s the weirdest work environment I’ve ever worked in, and I’ve been in the workforce for 30 years and in many different cultures and environments.

      • lua says:

        Are you sure we don’t work for the same company? Lol
        We have a kitchenette and there is a shared break room with other businesses in the building. But it’s beneath the A listers to eat there. In fact, since I work in support and there are 3 of us, have to be on a rotating lunch schedule. Once lunch time rolls around, all of the tech people scatter for 1.5 hours of lunch. And they don’t get in trouble for being gone over an hour. Different rules for different people.

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