Those who oppose taking affirmative steps to end gender discrimination in construction may argue that women’s low participation reflects a lack of ability or willingness to perform “dirty and dangerous” jobs. However, such assertions are not founded on reality. In fact, women’s representation in many “dirty and dangerous” jobs comparable to construction has increased over the past 30 years.The post links to a document published in May 2012 that bemoans the lack of progress on a 35-year old goal set by the DOL's Office for Federal Contract Compliance Programs to "for women to work 6.9 percent of federal construction contractors’ work hours[.]" The tone of the document mirrors that of Lenhoff's article. Among the reasons cited:
- "gender inequity in construction vocational and training programs"
- "women are often pushed by mentors, family, and friends into occupations that align with traditional gender stereotypes"
- "gender stereotypes, sexual harassment, a lack of awareness about opportunities in construction, and insufficient instruction"
- "barriers that women face in pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs drive their miniscule share of the field"
No doubt the reasons listed by the authors at the DOL play some role in the status quo, and the stereotype of a construction site is likely well based in reality. Yet a myopic view of the issue and an apparent desire to equalize the sexes in all areas does a disservice to both men and women. Men are stereotyped as Neanderthals crudely defending their turf at all costs, and women are infantilized as being helpless to break into a field where everyone knows they would if they only could be protected. Yes, "blatant discrimination" should be stamped out. But sometimes disparate impact is simply disparate choice by women (and men) who know what career is the best fit for them.