- A female apprentice carpenter last week sued her former employer in U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, for unspecified damages, alleging that gender was the reason she and other women were treated unfairly and ultimately fired and replaced with men.
- Plaintiff Linda Dugue claims that male coworkers at a Manhattan project site run by Long Island-based contractor Pabco Construction Corp. subjected her and other female employees to disparaging remarks and that foremen did not offer her and some other female employees the same training, career advancement and overtime opportunities it extended to her male counterparts. She claimed she was targeted in comments claiming women are not physically capable of doing construction field work and do not belong on that type of project.
- Dugue said she also filed an official complaint to her union.
Despite an industry-wide push for diversity and the inclusion of more women in the construction trades, only a little more than 9% of construction industry jobs are filled by women, according to an analysis of government data conducted by the National Association of Women in Construction.
Whether or not the sort of attitudes Dugue claims she encountered at work are widespread is unknown, but potential bias certainly hasn’t stopped U.S. construction industry initiatives, such as a statewide campaign in Massachusetts, from trying to recruit women in an effort to ease the effects of the current labor shortage.
If that is truly the end goal, then the industry needs to make sure women are at least treated equally when it comes to pay rates while it tries to deal with any negative attitudes. According to a People's World report, female construction workers make an average of 96% of what their male counterparts earn. It's worse for unionized women, who make 89% of what their male coworkers earn. The People's World figures don't identify whether or not maternity leave or time away from work to raise a family factored into those calculations. The closer the industry can come to parity, the more women it is likely to attract.