I’m Gonna Be an Engineer (Peggy Seeger)

“I’m Gonna Be an Engineer” Sheet Music (pdf).
“I’m Gonna Be an Engineer” Karaoke (midi with lyrics).

Lyrics: Peggy Seeger.
Tune: Peggy Seeger.


When I was a little girl, I wished I was a boy.
I tagged along behind the gang and wore my corduroys.
Ev’rybody said I only did it to annoy.
But I was gonna be an engineer!

Mama told me, “Can’t you be a lady?
Your duty is to make me the mother of a pearl.
Wait until you’re older, dear. Then, maybe
You’ll be glad that you’re a girl.”

“Be dainty as a Dresden statue,
Gentle as a Jersey cow.
Be smooth as silk; give creamy milk.
Learn to coo; learn to moo.
That’s what to do to be a lady now.”

When I went to school, I learned to write and how to read,
Some history, geography, and home economy.
And typing was a skill that ev’ry girl was sure to need
To while away the extra time until the time to breed.
And then they had the nerve to say, “What would you like to be?”
I said, “I’m gonna be an engineer!”

“No, you only need to learn to be a lady.
The duty isn’t yours for to try and run the world.
An engineer could never have a baby.
Remember, dear, that you’re a girl.”

So I became a typist, and I studied on the sly,
Working out the day and night so I could qualify.
And ev’ry time the boss came in, he pinched me on the thigh
And said, “I’ve never had an engineer!”

“You owe it to the job to be a lady.
It’s the duty of the staff for to give the boss a whirl.
The wages that you get are crummy, maybe,
But it’s all you get ’cause you’re a girl.”

“She’s smart for a woman!
I wonder how she got that way.
You get no choice; you get no voice.
Just stay mum; pretend you’re dumb.
That’s how you come to be a lady today!”

Then, Jimmy came along, and we set to conjugation.
We were busy ev’ry night with loving recreation.
I spent my days at work so he could get his education,
Now, he was an engineer!

He said, “I know you’ll always be a lady.
It’s the duty of my darling to love me all my life.
Could an engineer look after or obey me?
Remember, dear, that you’re my wife!”

As soon as Jimmy got a job, I studied hard again.
Then, busy at the drawing board a year or so. And then….
The morning that the twins were born, Jimmy said to them,
“Kids, your mother was an engineer!”

“You owe it to the kids to be a lady,
Dainty as a dish-rag and faithful as a chow.
Stay at home: you’ve got to mind the babies.
Remember you’re a mother now.”

Ev’ry time I turned ’round, there was something else to do:
Cook a meal or mend a sock or sweep a floor or two.
Listened to the morning show. It made me want to spew.
I was gonna be an engineer!

I really wished that I could be a lady.
I would do the lovely things that a lady’s s’posed to do.
I wouldn’t mind if only they would pay me.
Then, I would be a person, too.

What price for a woman?
You can buy her for a ring of gold.
To love and obey without any pay.
Get a cook or a nurse for better or worse.
You don’t need a purse when a lady is sold!

But now that times were harder, and my Jimmy’s got the sack,
I went down to Delco. They were glad to have me back:
Was a third-class citizen—my wages told me that—
But was a first-class engineer!

The boss, he said, “I pay you as a lady.
You only got the job ’cause I can’t afford a man.
With you, I keep the profits high as may be.
You’re just a cheaper pair of hands.”

“You got one fault: you’re a woman!
You’re not worth the equal pay.
A bitch or a tart, you’re nothing but heart.
Shallow and vain, you’ve got no brain.
Go down the drain like a lady today!”

I listened to my mother, and I joined the typing pool.
I listened to my lover, and I sent him through his school.
If I listened to the boss, I was just a bloody fool
And an underpaid engineer!

I’ve been a sucker ever since I was a baby
As a daughter, as a wife, as a mother, and a dear.
But I’ll fight them as a woman, not a lady.
Yes, I’ll fight them as an engineer!


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