Perhaps no other profession in the world, other than the military, is as largely dominated by men than the civil constructions sector. In this industry, where brawn used to be the only thing required of its employees, women do not seem to have any fighting chance, no role to fill. Now I am writing this article as a woman working in the construction industry (admittedly, an office job, but please bear with me) who is in constant contact with other women doing various operator-type roles in construction.
It’s a man’s man’s man’s world
The construction industry is widely seen to be a ‘man’s job’; women simply do not have the muscles needed for the heavy work common in the industry. Civil works mostly involve heavy lifting, pulling, shoveling, hammering, on to more lifting and shoveling — the type of work that nature simply did not make the female physique adapted with. Brawn used to be everything in this line of work.
This was the case until the invention of the steam engine, then internal combustion, and then robotics, began to change things — when controllable machines began to do the heavy work and took over industry, and humans merely became operators. Muscle power mattered less and less, while skill at manipulating controls and at performing supervisory tasks became the more critical factor in construction work. This is truer now than before, as the equipment and techniques used in the civil constructions industry become more and more sophisticated and high-tech and more independent of human intervention.
Women preferred over men in some civil constructions jobs
In Queensland, Australia, there were more than 13,000 trainees in all sectors of the construction industry, but there were only 188 women from this number — less than one percent. It is obvious to any employer, as well as better for the industry in general, to harness this vastly untapped source of female labor in order to offset labor shortages in the construction industry.
Some employers even prefer women over men in certain types of job. Men, they say, are more likely to have a traditional view of work, in the vein of a ‘that’s the way it’s always been done’ attitude. Women, on the other hand, are more likely to have a different view, maybe even owing to the fact of the natural ‘incompatibility’ of manual labor to the female physique. Some managers even say that since women tend to look after their machines, this could translate to savings in maintenance.
As the civil constructions industry become more and more high-tech, the number of women in the sector is only bound to increase. In this case, the muscles needed for civil constructions are between the fingers, and the one between the head.