Women construction workers are taking to TikTok and social media to show the prejudice, discrimination and sexism they face in their workplace every day, encouraging each other to speak up and showcase their competencies in the industry.
A study was released recently by Workwear Guru, an online publication providing apparel reviews, comparison articles and sizing tutorials for everyday workwear, just ahead of Women in Construction Week which runs until March 12.
Millions of videos have been uploaded to TikTok by women in construction. Workwear Guru analyzed the most used TikTok hashtags by female construction workers and categorized what women expressed as problems within the industry. The comments led to the key takeaways and findings.
“We reviewed hundreds of videos on TikTok published with #womeninconstruction and #womenintrades hashtags,” Lindsey Garrett, a communications officer at Workwear Guru explained in an email to the Daily Commercial News. “We mapped out the discrimination women face and the frequent comments they receive in their workplace from the videos.”
The key findings from the study included the construction industry has a male-dominated culture; women construction workers face gender-based discrimination; women construction workers are consistently undermined; and women in construction have poor working conditions.
As part of the study, the team also interviewed female workers who are also TikTok users.
“Through interviews with construction women, we explored in-depth the challenges and difficulties women within the industry experience, how they feel about the industry, what advice they have for women who want to enter the industry, and what they think can be done for women to have a better working environment in construction,” Garrett stated.
The personal stories of the women they interviewed reflect the issues within the industry, Garrett explained.
“In our question of what women can offer to the industry, they shared similar opinions such as problem-solving skills, empathy, a different way of thinking, multitasking and so on,” said Garrett. “Moreover, through the advice they share with other women who want to join the industry, they show that they don’t regret the path they’ve chosen, that it is totally worth it, and that challenging the industry stereotypes has made them stronger.”
Interviewees included Morgan Ventos, a general contractor from Arizona; Cecelia Leger, a tile installer in Nebraska; and Britney Mroczkowski, a contractor from Florida.
“People are often surprised when they see me show up to jobsites, and sometimes I feel like I have to prove myself,” said Leger.
“I feel the pressure needing to prove that I’m just as knowledgeable as the men on the team,” Mroczkowski stated. “There were times when I met subcontractors or other vendors on the construction site and they were shocked to hear my title or role in the project. However, after speaking with them for a few minutes they would usually relax and realize that I did in fact know what I was talking about.”
One of the stats included in the study was Women in Construction annual research revealed that almost half of the women (47 per cent) believed the male-dominated culture is the main reason women leave the industry and 38 per cent considered outright discrimination as the cause why women quit.
“As seen in the plethora of videos, women continue to be subjected based on their appearance,” Garrett noted. “ ‘You’re a girl, you’re too pretty to be working such a dirty job,’ ‘stop acting like a guy,’ or ‘girls can’t work in construction,’ are common comments women construction workers receive. This male-dominated culture creates a toxic environment for women to work as they habitually get catcalled by their peers.”
Women in construction also suffer from poor and unfair working conditions.
“Women consistently get paid less than their male counterparts,” Garrett pointed out. “For example, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women construction managers earn 75 cents for every dollar a male construction manager makes. Moreover, women working in construction and extraction occupations earn 79 cents for every dollar their male coworkers earn.”
For more information visit https://workwearguru.com/women-in-construction/.
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