Monday, 2 April 2012

Challenges for Women in Trades

The major challenges for a female working in a trade are not exactly what you would expect.  Your initial thought is probably physical strength.  Of course that can be an issue sometimes but there are tools out there to make almost any task possible for men and women despite their strength.  Sometimes (all the time) I wish I were a bit taller but that is the fault of my parents and has nothing to do with me being a girl.  Thanks mom and dad for that one;)  I'm sorry to offend anyone who does not believe in evolution but we adjust and evolve.  I have short stubby fingers but I always loved to play the piano.  Measure the stretch on my hand from pinky to thumb and it's comparable to that of a 6'2 man's.  I adjusted in order to play an octave or more on a keyboard the same way some biceps have magically popped up on my once scrawny arms after a couple years of humping cables and oil pails.  So here is MY list of challenges I face working in the trades because I am a girl:
  • WHERE IS THE BATHROOM!?!  I literally have to plan my day around when I can get a chance to use a bathroom.  I couldn't count the number of times I have been craving a coffee but I skipped it just because I was unsure of a certain sites location and proximity to a washroom.  I don't care how much I adjust and evolve I am never going to be able to pee standing up.  It is what it is.  For the sites that are in the back-country half way up a mountain the woods are your washroom sure... but when I'm downtown Vancouver I don't think people would really appreciate if I squatted in their shrubs.  My workplace uses Esso fleetcards and luckily Esso's tend to have fairly clean washrooms so that is a nice bonus.
  • "YOU KNOW IT'S RARE TO SEE A FEMALE DOING THIS".  Yes. Thank you for pointing that out.  I was unaware that it is nontraditional for a woman to be working on your generator.  I don't usually mind these comments I realize people are just being friendly but then they all seem to start talking about so and so who's aunt's friend's daughter is working as a mechanic in Ohio.  At some point I need to cut them off and say "Ok I need to get back to work or I wont make the deadline of my full bladder".
  • HAIR.  Headbands are your friend.  No matter how well prepared you are as soon as you dump diesel all over your hands it is at that exact moment that your hair falls in your face and you brush it aside promptly getting your locks as greasy and stinky as possible.  A simple solution is to wear a baseball cap, however, I am so used to having peripheral vision above my head that as soon as I put on a cap with a beak I start smoking my head off of things.  Again, I will adjust and evolve ;)
  • GOING OUT AFTER WORK.  You have two choices for going out after work.  The first is that you go home and completely shower and change.  The second is you just wear your work uniform so that people understand you have a valid excuse for looking (and smelling) like a greaseball.  The problem with the second one is anytime I wear my work uniform into a store people assume that the little girl in gray must be an employee.  I thought everyone knew that Wal-mart employees wear those bright blue smocks but apparently not.  After so many "Sorry I don't work here"s I decided to have some fun and start saying things like "oh yes it's on aisle five".  Or "oh sorry they don't pay me enough to give a shit". 
  • FRIENDS.  Moving to a new city most of the people I know out here are through work.  Don't get me wrong, I appreciate my fellow technicians but every once in a while a girls gotta talk to another female or she'll go crazy!  A lot of companies have an "us and them" attitude between the service technicians and the office staff.  When I talk and bond with my service coordinators/administrators the technicians consider it flirting with the enemy.
  • LOOKING GOOD.  If you Google "mechanic girl" you get countless pictures of hot girls wearing cut off jean shorts, a clean white crop top with no bra, perfect hair, and heels.  I'm sorry but those girls are almost as bad as the girls I see at Cypress Mountain doing their makeup in the bathroom.  If you aren't skiing/shredding hard enough to sweat off that eye shadow then get out of my way.  Some days I would love to work in shorts and a tank top because of the heat but it's just not possible.  Mechanics/electricians/anyone doing any kind of work at all NEED POCKETS.  I have mastered the art of the pocket dance.  You know that jig you do when you cant find a wrench or a pen or a key and you start feeling up all your pockets while kind of shaking around.  As for the hair...  I don't just tie my hair back to keep it out of my face... I do it because I work around rotating objects.  I think my boyfriend appreciates that I go to work dressed for it and return with my hair and scalp in tact.  Oh and the heels?  As long as their steel toed I guess they're fine ;)
Those are the major ones but I'm sure other women would have different ones depending on their trade.  

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