Well, what a week it has been. Seven days ago I posted up this blog post about the sexism I and other people I knew had recently experienced at construction awards, and asked readers:
“Let’s talk to men and women in the industry, and stop doing things which are not and don’t feel inclusive. Lets start talking about all our great work, and in everything we do, make sure that women are always welcome, everywhere.”
I had no idea how the post would be received, indeed I’d been stewing about the awards event I had attended for some weeks, hoping to just forget about it, like many women do quite a lot.
Sexism at Construction Awards – the response
The response has been overwhelming.
- For a start, the article has had 2749 unique page views since it was published and 15 people have commented.
- My first tweet about the post has been shared on 98 times, liked 66 times and replied to 32 times.
- Overall there have been over 300 tweets around the subject of sexism in construction this week.
- 42 people have liked the post on LinkedIn and 39 people have commented there.
Because there were so many replies on twitter, I put together a storify curation of them in the comments. Over 3400 people have read it. After about 300 posts I decided to stop curating – I’ve got a day job!
Discussions have spread out into all different areas including
- People remembering sexism during their early years in construction
- People sharing examples of recent events where similar entertainment has made them uncomfortable, and some who haven’t felt able to talk about it before, and how much women welcome men speaking out, and congratulations to the men who did. Try this interesting article about the subject of why women don’t speak out.
- People who were disappointed that such events are still going on in 2015.
- People pointing out the damage this is doing to our industry.
- People pointing out that construction has moved on but the entertainment hasn’t
- People suggesting why PR people might not want to speak out about sexism at construction awards
- Discussion about whether the organisers should apologise (they have)
- People sharing statistics about the proportion of women, disabled people and black and ethnic minorities in the construction industry, particularly drawing attention to the lack of women in trades
- People pointing out this isn’t just about sexism but racism too
- People discussing how to get true equality in construction and what it would look like
- Women telling me how much they love construction work
- Concern that the digital transformation might just make sexism worse as the tech industry has an awful reputation for sexism and abuse of women
- Discussions about what feminism is – it is a subject that has been rather over complicated
- People who are concerned about the effect that this kind of activity will have on young people who are in construction or want to join the industry
- Sharing of useful resources about why it is important to get women into the industry
- People asking for advice about what suitable entertainment for construction awards would be like.
There has been so much positive response it is difficult to take it all in, and of course it has not been all positive, but at the centre of it are many people saying
We hope that things will change’
It appears that in schools a great deal of work is being done to encourage all young people into the industry. A good example of this is Design Engineer Construct (Class of Your Own), and Alison Watson pointed out in her comment on my blog and since, that young people are coming into this industry in much more equal numbers. These young people haven’t yet been affected by the environment we have been describing.
I also do not think this is only a ‘we need more women’ issue. It would be great to have more women in the industry; in fact it is essential. But if we don’t make our awards, our conferences, our meetings, offices and building sites welcoming for all, then that will never happen.
How to make construction awards inclusive
So let us come back to the point of the original blog post. How do we make sure that events like this welcome everyone?
I think there are three key things to be done:
- We need to ensure that all the organisers of construction awards, including the professional bodies, have genuine procedures to deal with harassment and discrimination, and implement them. Here’s an example from a tech conference.
- Organisers of events need to operate due diligence to ensure that the acts they book are appropriate for the event, and that they are properly briefed, so that they don’t assume the audience will be stereotypically pale, male and stale.
- People who attend events where sexism, racism or any other form of discrimination or harassment occurs, should be empowered to stand up, call out what is wrong, and take what steps they feel appropriate to change things.
People are already sharing examples and seeing organisers pledging to make changes. We’ve even seen people sharing the blog post with comedians so they can make sure they are on message. Lets keep this up. If you need to amplify your call just get in touch by commenting on the blog, or filling out a contact form.
If you’ve got ideas about how we can all make awards and other construction events inclusive, please share them with us in the comments below.
If you’d like to be kept informed about the topic of sexism at construction awards, including being updated on ideas for how to change things, please let me have your email address so I can get in touch.
I’d like to thank everyone who contributed to the discussion this week. In particular Women in BIM who reported the original incident and provide a fantastic support network, and to Constructing Equality and Class of Your Own for their work, support and advice. Lets make a change.