Ever since they come into the world, women are expected to follow the rules set for them by their society. They are often raised to be conformists and made to believe that there are things they just cannot or should not do. Their entire lives are defined by societal norms and expectations as opposed to by who they really are and what they want out of life.
The modern woman, however, has taken over the reins and is more in control of how she would want her life to pan out. Today, we find women entering all kinds of professions and excelling in them.
Women are also successfully making their presence felt in predominantly male bastions like extreme sports and heavy industries. Don’t be surprised if you a see a good number of women working at a construction site the next time you’re there.
If you’re a woman who’s seriously contemplating a career in the construction sector, you’d do well to keep the following in mind.
Breaking Barriers Won’t Be Easy
The construction industry is still male-dominated with fewer women than men. Though things are changing for the better, women still hesitate in taking up jobs in this field because of the existing stereotypes.
Till a couple of decades ago, women in this sector were relegated to sitting pretty behind the reception desk and answering phone calls, but have since taken up more hands-on roles. With professional courses available more and more women are now opting for a career in construction with a view to working onsite.
In fact, there has never been a better time for women to work in construction. As societal norms change, more opportunities are created for women. With the elderly workforce retiring, the traditional mindset of ‘the construction industry is a man’s world’ is waning too. Younger people are more open minded and are welcoming of women in this industry in the form of interns, colleagues, or managers.
Your Safety Matters
One of the main reasons women are discouraged from joining the construction industry is due to its physically challenging and potentially dangerous work environment. Working at heights with heavy equipment in extreme weather, or digging a trench amidst dirt and sewage waste, or supervising such tasks might not work for everyone.
But for those who dare it is important to ensure that their safety concerns are adequately addressed by their employers. This, however, does not imply that your safety is the concern of just your employer; you are responsible for it too.
Thanks to governmental legislations and guidelines for heavy industries, most companies have their own safety rules, regulations and policies in place. So make sure you refer to and understand those. If your job requires you to work onsite, you will have to exercise extra care and caution like wear proper protective safety gear (helmets, gloves, anti-skid boots, eye wear, earplugs, etc.) before entering the factory premises and wear fall protection gear when working at heights.
Make sure the safety gear you wear fits you well as loose or tight gear can make you very uncomfortable and disturb your focus. Also make sure that your work area is well ventilated and is equipped with first-aid kits, fire alarms, fire-fighting equipment, emergency exits, danger signage, and so on. Handle heavy machinery and equipment with care and only if you’ve been properly trained for it in order to prevent workplace accidents.
Hygiene and Sanitation
One of the biggest infrastructural barriers that deter women from entering and staying put in this field is a lack of arrangement for hygiene and sanitation. Certain requirements are specific to female employees and fulfilling them is the responsibility of the employer. Steps have been taken in this direction by employers, labor unions, manufacturers, training providers, supervisors, and workers of organizations to ensure the health and safety of their female counterparts.
Hygiene and sanitation are your right and there are things that you can do to ensure your environment remains neat and clean. Make sure you keep your work area free of clutter, debris, chemical spills, grease spills, and dirt. All tools and equipment should be kept back in their designated places after use as opposed to leaving them lying around carelessly. Not only will such measures keep you workplace clean, they will also prevent workplace injuries.
To be able to survive in an industry that’s highly labor-intensive, you need to be in your best shape, physically and mentally. A healthy balanced diet, accompanied by regular exercise can help you achieve that. Specific exercises meant for employees of heavy industries to increase strength and flexibility should be carried out before performing tasks that are physically demanding.
Furthermore, you also need to keep stress at bay as it can hamper your concentration which is crucial when performing difficult tasks. Make sure you take enough breaks and get enough rest to keep your mind and body fit and active and excel at your tasks.
For Working Mothers
Women, especially those with children, are always expected to balance their work and family life. While many have been doing so successfully, there’s no denying that it can get very difficult and exhausting for a woman to dedicate over 10 – 12 hours at work and come back home to fulfill household responsibilities.
Several women feel that the construction industry is less suited to working mothers, but at the same time add that a great deal of managing the balancing act depends on the designation she holds and the kind of work she does. Hence, this factor varies on a case to case basis.
An open mind, dedication and hard work are the biggest prerequisites to success in this industry. Plus, the idea of succeeding in a “man’s world” is motivating enough to make you give every task your best shot!