Sunday 21 October 2018

Seven-year-old girl gets 'sexist' road signs changed in New Zealand

The youngster wrote to the head of the New Zealand Transport Agency

The sign for staff working on power lines in Auckland, New Zealand, that seven-year-old Zoe Carew complained about (Vector/New Zealand Herald via AP)
The sign for staff working on power lines in Auckland, New Zealand, that seven-year-old Zoe Carew complained about (Vector/New Zealand Herald via AP)

Nick Perry

A seven year-old girl has convinced New Zealand’s transport agency to replace its “unfair” road signs to include women.

Zoe Carew knew it was not right when she saw people working on power lines near the road and a warning sign that read “LINEMEN”.

Her father was driving Zoe and her brother to their grandparents’ house in a suburb near Wellington at the time, Zoe explained in a June email to the head of the New Zealand Transport Agency.

She wrote that she talked about the sign with her father and wondered why it said “men” when women can also work on the power lines.

“I think that this sign is wrong and unfair. Do you agree?” Zoe wrote. “Can you please change the sign to say “LINE-WORKERS” instead, or something else correct and fair like that.”

It turns out that agency chief executive Fergus Gammie did agree with Zoe’s concerns.

“I commend you for your suggestion and for taking action where you think something unfair should be fixed,” Mr Gammie wrote back. “Well done.”

He said Zoe’s suggested wording would require larger signs but that “LINE CREW” would fit on signs of the same size.

He said the change would be included in the agency’s specification approvals soon. New signs will be phased in as old ones are retired due to wear and tear.

Zoe’s mum Caitlin Carew published the email exchange on Twitter this week: “So proud of my 7yo,” she wrote, adding: “High 5s all round!” On Wednesday, she declined further comment ahead of a planned photo shoot with Zoe and Mr Gammie when the new signs are made.

The agency also congratulated Zoe on social media.

“We were happy to take Zoe’s suggestion on board, because great ideas can come from anyone, including seven-year-olds!” the agency tweeted. “Good on you, Zoe!

Press Association

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