Monday, April 18, 2011

Women and Wires. Or more on exclusion of women from traditionally male blue-collar jobs.

My post on mining is all about clarifying the concept that women just wanna be comfy and safe and secure and that is why they don't pick those well-paying (in the past, anyway) but dangerous traditionally male blue-collar jobs, the kinds Real Men do, and supposedly the reason why women on less, on average (not so). This post gives another example, that of electricians.

The numbers of female electricians are miniscule (about one percent of all US electricians), smaller than women in physics, say. Among the largest reasons for that are co-worker resistance and the voluntary nature of any attempt to include more women in the field:
But now, 24 years after completing her apprenticeship in the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 3 in New York City, she knows she was wrong.
It's not that she doesn't like her work. In fact she has enjoyed the diversity of jobs, ranging from traffic signals, making fiber optic expressway cameras record and bridges. But the atmosphere has made her question her career choice.
"Some male electricians have told me I shouldn't be there or have gone behind my back and say they weren't going to take orders from a woman," said Fox, who also cites nude pictures of women on jobsites as efforts to "put women in their place."

Susan Eisenberg, an electrician and current resident artist and scholar at the Brandeis University Women's Studies Research Center in Waltham, Mass., calls most unions' approach to dealing with such problems a "model to nowhere."
The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers has a diversity-and-inclusion education initiative and recommends a sexual harassment policy to its 11 geographical districts, but it's not required.
"Civil rights issues are basic. They shouldn't be voluntary," Eisenberg said.

All this is good to remember when you read certain types of MRAs tell us that if only women got off their asses and did some Real Work they'd make more money. Of course the gender gap in wages has little to do with dangerous types of job, but it is still salutary to remind ourselves of the reasons why certain occupations have hardly any women.