New Zealand

Women traders say comments about sexism are a daily occurrence at work. Photo / Getty Images

By Charlotte Cook, RNZ

No toilets, topless calendars, and comments about their looks are just a few of the things business ladies say they deal with on a daily basis.

They say big changes are needed if the industry is to attract more to a sector that is struggling to fill jobs.

Now, a survey on the industry, led by the Collective of Women in Trades, asks employers and women about the obstacles to overcome.

Kat Kaiwai has been in the construction industry for 12 years and is now Managing Director at Tairāwhiti Contractors.

She started out in administration and tried her hand at almost everything including holding the Stop / Go sign on road works, operating heavy machinery and project management.

Often times she was the only woman there and that meant years of work without access to the toilet.

“Even though people say to stay hydrated and drink water all day, I never did because if I drank water all day I would need to go to the bathroom all day. the day.”

Usually she couldn’t even use a toilet.

“I would go right by the side of the road. So I just go into a bush or open both doors on a ute and stand between the two doors and crouch down in the middle of there.

It was even more difficult when she had her period.

“I would change right before it was time for us to leave and I would have a great tampon and a big super towel for the night and have two to hold on for that long.”

Now in a managerial position, Kaiwai was trying to find ways to make it easier for other women.

For Elizabeth Cramer-Robert, a first-year apprentice electrician, it was still difficult.

“If you’re like the only woman on the 100-man site it can be intimidating but at the same time it’s a lot of fun, but there are definitely challenges.

“The women’s restroom is certainly an example of this and the facilities for taking care of your period.

“These things are not really thought out and it can be difficult to convey sometimes that it is a necessity, it is not a luxury.”

She said sexist comments were a daily occurrence.

“Much of it is unconscious, but it’s still hurtful. I’ve noticed that while some men are supportive, others don’t believe I should be there.

“I have been confronted with comments like ‘We are not responding to your type here’, ‘Wouldn’t you rather be home? “or” Shouldn’t you be in a dress? “”

Cramer-Robert said it took her a while to find her voice, but once she did, she asked for topless toilets and calendars to be removed.

She was passionate about improving the workplace for women because she wanted more of them to join her in a job she loves.

This is exactly what the survey conducted by the Collective of Women in Trades is aiming for.

He was trying to figure out what it would take to attract some of the 22,000 wāhine who lost their jobs during Covid-19.

Toby Beaglehole leads the BCITO Building and Construction Learning Group.

He said the survey would also ask employers what they could do.

“What is preventing employers from hiring more women? Because in the trades, about 13.5% are women, it is far too low.

“We want to tell employers, what’s stopping you from hiring women? And I guess you won’t be drawing too many conclusions until we do this research, so that we can then put on foot this project which gives better results. “

Priya Sami works in construction on film sets – she had a simple message for the industry.

“We need someone who’s very respected, who’s not going to take the shit to say, hey, just remember when you’re in a group of men and a woman walks past and you look all, it’s intimidating, like you could be the cutest guys ever, but you got to understand how the world has been and how it is really, really intimidating for a woman. “

The investigation runs until May 7.


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This notice was published: 2021-04-13 22:52:01


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