I'm glad to see that you have taken an initial step that will help you identify a field of engineering that you will enjoy the most by trying out different fields of engineering during high school. In my experience, many undergraduate students find an area of study they are passionate about only after several semesters of university, and while it may appear to be ideal to choose your path before going to university, I would encourage you to be open to different areas of engineering specialization even after you have started towards your bachelor's degree. After all, you may find something you find even more fascinating only once you've started down your degree path.
My typical optical design engineer work in the aerospace field mainly involves optical system design, including interfacing with colleagues who design the mounts and mechanical benches that support my lenses and mirrors, interacting with customers and colleagues in meetings to ensure my part of the system works the way it needs to, and working with the instrument systems engineer to ensure that the performance of my design meets all requirements under the full set of customer requirements. In support of this work, I generally spend roughly 30% of my time working at the computer with design software tools, 10% of my time working with colleagues to package optical systems and ensure mechanical mounts meet the needs of my optical system, 35% of my time attending meetings and preparing briefing packages for colleagues and customers to explain what we're doing, and 25% of my time documenting my work in engineering reports and creating assembly, integration, and test documents to guide the hands-on work. The mix of work on any given day varies depending on how far along the program is.
As an undergraduate I studied engineering physics, specializing in optical engineering later as a graduate student. My class was approximately 30 engineering physics and physics undergraduates, and although the class generally subdivided into manageable study groups of 4-5 people once we reached our fourth semester of school, we were a fairly tight-knit, friendly bunch since everyone took the same required classes and we were all in it together. I believe there were roughly 5 women in our class, which was quite typical for physics and engineering physics at the time (~25 years ago)-- and I always felt like there was no notable gender bias among either the students or the faculty.
As far as problems or discrimination in colleges and universities, my observation is that some departments are composed of more "forward thinking" faculty members who actively work to balance any unintentional gender bias they might exhibit and other departments are composed of more faculty members who are less adept at treating all students as equals. For the schools you visit, strive to meet with an assortment of students and ask them how they feel they are treated- whether the students support each other, whether the faculty are generally bias-free, whether the faculty are willing to go the extra mile to help students learn, and find out what the program's graduation rates look like for female students. If you gather the right information, you will be able to determine which school is the right fit for you- whether you prefer a program with highly competitive classmates with a healthy camaraderie or a program with exceptionally supportive faculty or perhaps a program that allows excellent flexibility in constructing a custom degree program. I expect you will find that the students are very forthcoming in sharing their opinions about their experiences. One note I would like to add to supplement my observation on "problems" is that it often seemed to me that the women I knew as a student were less confident about their skills than our male counterparts were- even though the women in our class were all just as smart and well-prepared as the men. Always be confident- because if you work just as hard as everyone else in class and you're just as well prepared, you will do at least as well as everyone else!
In my career experiences, as far as problems or discrimination, my observation has been that nearly everyone I work with is gender-blind, particularly once they've worked with me sufficiently long to evaluate and find my engineering skills to be up to the challenge at hand. In fact, it's the case that ALL the new engineers , irregardless of gender, must prove themselves to be worthy to their coworkers before they're fully accepted into the team-- through this informal proving process the team understands where their new colleagues are able to contribute and where they may require supplemental guidance. It's just like getting to know a new player on your sports team- you need to figure out how best to mesh their different skills into the team strategy. The great thing about engineers is that it's all about performance-- so if you perform well, there should be no problem convincing them that you're a great fit to the team.
Best of luck,