Foreigners to the Culture:
Women in Trades and Technologies

by Kate Braid

“Any woman who has moved from the playing field of male discourse into the realm where women are developing our own descriptions of the world know the extraordinary sense of shedding ... someone else's baggage, of ceasing to translate. It is not that thinking becomes easy, but that the difficulties are intrinsic to the work itself, rather than to the environment”(1).

Women make up about three percent of the apprenticeable trades today and slightly more of the technologies. This is barely more than the a same number ten years ago. It seems that though there is an increase in the number of women entering the trades and technologies, many are not staying. The reason is not that they don't like the work, but because they can't stand the environment. This article hopes to name the differences between men and women that come clear when they meet in the context of a traditional male bastion of behaviour and language. It is dedicated to every woman who has e left, in recognition of the fact that you made it easier for those of us who came after. Thank you.

Women leave the trades and technologies not because they don't like the work, but because they can't stand the environment.

When I began to teach carpentry in 1989, I was amazed at the breadth of knowledge most male students had, at their ease with tinkering and the unconscious availability of options. "How did you know that?" I'd ask. Then I realized I had tinkered too. With my mum. If you asked me for a substitute for baking powder or five ways to get a stuck lid off a jar, no problem. But two ways to remove a broken screw?

Most women have very little hands-on experience with tinkering or mechanical problem-solving. It is a positive step that girls are now being allowed to take basic shop; in some grade eight classes it is even required. But when nothing's working out the way the book said it would and all the boys are looking like you're some kind of idiot, and that terrible little voice whispers, "See? You can't do it," it takes great reserves of courage or just plain stubbornness to say, "I'm going to do it anyway." Most women more understandably quit.

Étrangères à la culture

par Kate Braid

Nombre de femmes qui se lancent dans un métier spécialisé ou technique l'abandonne rapidement ,car dies ne supportent pas le milieu de travail. Les différences de culture importantes existant entre les femmes et les hommes entrent en collision dans le bastion masculin qu'est l'industrie de la construction.

Les hommes ne parlent pas la même langue. Pour communiquer, ils jettent des bouts de phrases dans lesquels ne transparaît rien de sérieux, ni de personnel. Dans un milieu de travail stressant, un peu d'humour n'est pas déplacé, mais il se peut qu'il soit diriger vers les plus faibles, qui en l'occurrence risque d'être une femme si elle est nouvelle et insécure. Une femme se sentira peut-être aussi intimidée voire humiliée, par la terminologie du métier qui est égrenée de mots sexistes.

Les femmes qui effectuent des travaux de force se trouvent souvent prises entre le marteau et l'enclume. Si elles demandent de l'aide (comme le ferait un homme), on en conclut que c' est parte qu'elles ne peuvent faire le travail. Si elles ne demandent rien, c'est parce qu' elles veulent en remontrer aux hommes. Certaines femmes ont affaire à un superviseur qui veut leur perte. Il les affecte à des tâches impossibles et les réprimande si le travail n'est pas effectué.

On ne s'étonne donc pas que les femmes se lassent et abandonnent leur emploi. Ce qu'il faut c'est procéder à un rapprochement des deux cultures pour provoquer des changements radicaux dans la façon dont les hommes travaillent depuis toujours.

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