Saturday 22 October 2016

Female construction workers share what working on-site is really like

Published 09/11/2015 | 14:25

Female Reddit users are sharing what working as a construction worker is really like when you're a woman.

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Reddit user QueenAnneBoleynTudor started the discussion, sharing her experiences of her first year working in the construction industry as a safety and compliance officer. She summed up her experiences to a number of main points.


"The sexism is every bit as rampant as you think it is".

She explained that other workers often assumed she was getting a tour of the site when, in fact, she was there to inspect it.

She said she had to weather jokes about "breaking a nail" and "careful, you might ruin your makeup".


I have had to prove myself thrice as much as any man". 

She wrote that she was taken less seriously because other workers thought she “looked like Barbie”.

She explained that she had to roll up her sleeves and get involved to a level which no man at her stage would have had to do.

"On a construction site, there is no such thing as ‘not your job.’ I am not above pushing a broom, swinging a hammer, or unloading lumber if it helps my team out. However, if it was a man in my role, he would not be expected to do this. It would be assumed that he’s worked his way up from the trenches and therefore doesn’t have to do this anymore".


"Your skin needs to be tough as nails".

Any female worker in construction needs to be able to ignore bad language and inappropriate jokes.

"If you cannot handle the work “f**k”, then you’re really in the wrong business.

As for the jokes...  if you go running to HR every single time, it does not make for a productive site".

She added that " everything can-and will- be perceived as a weakness".

She shared a story of damaging her nail ("the damn thing was partially lifted off the nail bed") where she had to "suck it up and carry on" to avoid "broken nail remarks".

She added that "(a man) hitting his thumb with a hammer" would not have felt the same pressure to continue to avoid being viewed as weak.


"Being one of the guys is the highest compliments I could ever get".

"I knew I had been officially accepted when, after they were comfortable cracking jokes around me, working through the pain, and getting dirty, I was invited out after work with the crew for beers".

"They stopped seeing the two ‘X’ chromosomes, and started seeing me as a professional, as a fellow crew member".


Another Reddit user joined the conversation to share their experiences as a transgender woman in the industry.

She revealed that she's suffered all of the jokes and the sexist comments - but only in the last five years.

"I've had people say 'let me talk to one of the guys in your office'... (things like this) has only become an issue in (since I came out as a woman)".

" I get more arguments and "let me talk to the engineer" now (as a licensed Civil engineer specializing in structures) than I did when I first started out doing client contact as a drafter - not even an EIT (Engineer in training)!"

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