The worlds of entertainment and government have been rocked by a torrent of sexual misconduct stories, but they’re far from the only work environments with longstanding sexual harassment problems. Molly Martin has this Perspective.
Women are speaking out against sexual predators -- even movie moguls and presidents --like never before. Women in the building trades like me applaud them for telling their stories. Every tradeswoman has experienced harassment and can say #Metoo.
In 1980 I was the only female electrician on a big construction site in San Francisco. I would do my job, dressed in boots, hardhat and work clothes just like the men, but looking over my shoulder anticipating violence and hostility. In the port-a -potties amidst the genitalia drawn on the walls I saw my name written underneath expletives.
I spent my working life in a hostile work environment. We had no word for it then. There was no recourse. You could complain to your foreman or your union rep but told the harassment was your fault and if you couldn’t take it, you should leave the job. I loved the work, I loved the paycheck. I kept my mouth shut and my head down.
Some things have not changed since then. Women still make up less than three percent of the construction workforce. We are often alone in a crowd of hundreds of men.