Hammer in one hand, a tool belt around their waist and a drill in the other hand. Many people would automatically assume that the gender of this person is a male. Why? Because construction work is a “man’s world” it is a “man’s job”. Or at least that is the general stereotype.
Being International women’s day, we are all about smashing these stereotypes and reminding people about gender equality.
Safe Rebuild is hoping to do the same with their women in construction forum, on today, which had 120 women turn up. Key speakers will be discussing struggles they face and other things that women notice in the industry.
Jen Dransfield, field officer, will be at the forum discussing how she deals with underlying tones of contempt from guys in the workplace.
“To be honest, I haven’t really had that experience that I can think of- probably because I generally always start those types of conversations with a question, rather than a statement. When you tell someone what to do, that’s when you get their ‘heckles up’, it creates friction and you don’t actually help them take learnings from the experience. By being personable, and taking the time to listen you can help them work through the problem-solving aspect of health and safety- that’s what changes culture. By asking instead of telling, you give people the opportunity to explain their situation, because workplace safety shortfalls are rarely straight-forward.”
Working with men in a field that they dominate can be tough, something that roofer TJ Kereru-Daly admitted.
” Explicit Gender inequality that I experience on site [is the biggest challenge]. Guys have a different way of talking (more cursing) and I have to work a lot harder than the guys to prove myself. Unfortunately I don’t get respect until I have earnt it through hard work, then I am treated as an equal. I don’t like being excluded from some of the guys conversations that occur on site and I am afraid to speak up sometimes as I am not always listened to even when my ideas are supported by senior staff. I am struggling to complete my apprenticeship due to not being taken seriously.”
Of course, there are advantages as well. “Guys are really honest on site and will tell you straight up if you are not working well, whereas ladies may backstab. I always get to do the paperwork on site. I have [also] learnt a lot about guys, from working with guys – I get good relationship advice and have a whole lot of big brothers on site who tell subbies to back off if they are flirting with me or picking on me. It was good I had to earn respect as it made me work harder.”
If you want to head along or know someone who would benefit from this event, they are holding a second forum on the 29th of March.
Image Credits: Maiden Group, photo by Douglas Holmes