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Women in construction and workplace discrimination, pt. 2

Our last post shared concerning data about women in the construction industry. Women now have the equal opportunity to join the blue-collared workforce. Sadly, it sounds as though who choose to do so do at the real threat of being the victims of discrimination at the workplace.

As mentioned earlier, an astounding amount of construction women studied reported being the targets of sexual harassment and an overall hostile work environment. Women in the industry also report that they are often not provided bathrooms and are retaliated against when they complain about it. A great safety concern, too, is that much of the safety and work equipment available to the female employees doesn't fit them and puts them at-risk of being injured. 

Based on these reports, one might ask, "Why would a woman want to work in the construction industry?" Just like any man, a woman needs to earn a living. Maybe construction is her best option; maybe she likes physical work and using tools. Whatever her reason, an employee in the field is owed certain employee rights, such as the freedom from discrimination, sexual harassment and the right to a safe work environment. 

What these reports should have everyone asking is, "What can be done to try to resolve this employment issue?" Advocates for a healthy, lawful workplace suggest more specific, intensive, consistent and widespread training about sexual harassment in the industry. This includes mandatory training for supervisors as well as workers. 

To combat discrimination and the feeling among women that they are isolated on-the-job, training materials and conversations should be gender-inclusive. If images and training content don't include representations of women, then its workers will continue to fail to see it as a diverse, all-inclusive industry. Changed mindsets could equal changed behavior.

If a woman feels that a supervisor or co-worker's behavior is still stuck in a discriminatory mode, she could have legal rights to protect her. An employment lawyer can talk with her about the situation and discuss any legal options that might help her receive the treatment and/or compensation she deserves. 

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