Thursday 22 February 2018

Bridging the gender divide is simply storm in a cup of Rosie

Equality matters when it comes to boardrooms, not jobs on building sites or down mines, writes Emer O'Kelly

SOCIALIST: Rosie Hackett took part in the 1916 Rising
SOCIALIST: Rosie Hackett took part in the 1916 Rising

Emer O'Kelly

NO woman was invited to speak at the opening of the new Rosie Hackett Bridge. Clearly, I am expected to be outraged. The team involved in getting the bridge to opening stage comprised an architectural practice, an engineering consultancy, and a construction company.

Roughan and O'Donovan were the consulting engineers, a practice with six consulting partners, all men. The architects were Sean Harrington Architects, a practice with three partners, all men. The building contract was carried out by Graham Construction, a company based in Hillsborough in Co Down which employs 1,400 people, has a turnover of €387m, and is chaired by Michael Graham, a man. Not merely was there not a gender requirement for 50 per cent of labourers and craftsmen on the project to be women, it would seem that not a single female labourer was employed from start to finish. Rosie Hackett must be turning in her grave.

Well, that's the logic behind the complaint that no woman spoke at the official opening ceremony for the bridge. A logic that would intimate that only architectural, engineering, and construction companies with a gender balance in their make-up would have their tenders considered. Carried through as a national policy, it would mean that society would quickly become paralysed.

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