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Op-Ed

Girl construction worker: why not?

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By EMN Updated: Nov 29, 2013 10:06 pm
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Easterine Kire

[dropcap]I[/dropcap] wouldn’t have thought of this if I had not seen a young girl in construction worker clothes standing at the traffic lights with a hammer in her hand. She was for real. She was part of a construction crew renovating the building across the street. I was not the only person staring at her in surprise. Drivers of passing cars threw bemused looks at her but no one passed a rude comment. After a few seconds, I thought yeah why not? Why shouldn’t girls get into all the professions which we think are closed off to them on biological grounds or physiological reasons. If she is really interested in the profession and has the stamina for it, there is no reason why a girl should not be part of a construction crew. After all, it’s not just about brawn and muscle. Construction work needs brains too and there are tasks that require precision and delicacy that a girl could easily bring to the job. It could prove to be quite an asset to have a girl on the job, not just as someone for serving the coffee, but as part of the team, someone who gets into the nitty-gritty of construction work, and knows what is expected of her.I have said this before and will say it again. We should not allow stereotyping to dictate the kind of professions that a girl can opt for. In today’s world, there are no barriers left for girls and jobs. Female taxi drivers are still a little rare but their numbers are growing, bless them. Female bus drivers are doing as good a job as their male counterparts. It’s all about attitude, yes and it’s about right application, meaning finding the job that suits your talents best.
Recently, the plumber came to the house accompanied by a young female apprentice. He was showing her the ropes, or the pipes, to be more accurate. And to her credit, she was doing a good job of learning them. At the downtown garage, a young female garage worker has admitted that she struggles a bit with elderly male customers. One of them protested, “I will never allow a woman to change my tires!” and refused to be served by her. It was one of the amusing responses from regular customers on finding male oriented jobs being handled by females. It was the expected resistance to female workers in what has always been seen as a male domain. This kind of initial resistance is to be expected. Women are not expected to be any good at mechanical things or jobs that require muscle power. That is a mental hurdle dictated by society. But once we have gotten over that hurdle, there isn’t any reason why girls should not be proficient at the things that boys do and vice versa.
The best chefs are largely men. Yet no one thinks it’s funny that a man should excel in making food, something that is accepted worldwide as women’s work. If we remove the sexist approach to most professions, we can expect to be very surprised. A woman I know taught her slightly effeminate husband to knit and he became a better knitter than her. Knitting is a subject in some European schools for students of both genders and there are just as many boy students as girls who like to knit.
One can go on and on, but the point I want to highlight is, let’s stop stereotyping jobs for girls. We can solve unemployment faster as we open up male professions to girls who are genuinely interested. I want to take this argument further and say that all the professions we think we lack brains for are actually doable. It’s a matter of having enough interest. It is certainly not a matter of lacking intelligence.
School can be a good place to start to deconstruct the idea that girls are suited only for certain professions. Our girl-children are smart and intelligent and energetic. They need right guidance and good support and there is no stopping them after that. Let’s not put limitations in their way just because we, in our day, have had limits put on our thought processes.

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By EMN Updated: Nov 29, 2013 10:06:34 pm