" Hey Joe, I noticed you making weird looks at me all day, Is there something wrong?".
"Nothing wrong per say, but I do think what you are wearing isn't appropriate and it is a distraction to the men working on the site".
"Oh, what about them is not appropriate? They are durable, safe and practical for the job tasks I do on a daily basis".
"They are too tight. Maybe you should look at buying a set of looser fitted pants."
I can't begin to tell you how many times Ive heard this type of interaction from women in trades. What is appropriate? Why are tighter fitted pants looked down upon? Why as women, do we constantly have to change what we do and who we are to appease everyone in our lives?
Whether you are a mother, a best friend, a business professional or in the trades, I feel we are constantly having to change bits and pieces of who we are just to avoid confrontation and conflict in order to "get the job done".
As times are slowly changing, we are seeing more and more #womensworkwear making itself to the frontlines of battle to help us in our day to day challenges. However, I still know so many women that wear impractical work wear just to avoid this type of situation at work because frankly, they are exhausted. Tired of always have to fight for who they are and explain why they do what they do to people who are stuck in times that are no longer relevant . The "Boys Club" only allow so much room for women and in order to be part of that "Boys Club" you need to talk, walk, and act like a man. Which also means, wearing things that don't "Show off" our lady bits. I cant tell you how many times I went out for dinner with the guys and they were blown away at the size of my tits because I "hid" them so well at work. First off, I WAS hiding them! I didn't want to be looked at differently ( aka: like a woman) because I wanted to feel like an equal. At the time that meant wearing baggy , unsafe clothing in order to BE. A .MAN.
Now for those of you who don't know, I worked Oil and Gas for the majority of my time in trades. Constantly being surrounded by men, I just didn't want the unnecessary troubles of having to deal with sexual attraction and drama. So yes, I wore mens work clothing that constantly caught on fire because it didn't fit right. Sounds so stupid doesn't it, but it is a VERY REAL thing!
Reality is, skills sometimes just aren't enough and thats where we are! Sadly, many sites prove that its about how we "FIT IN" the work place, who we know and who we become friends with.
Change isn't easy, and in order for change to happen we need to NOT be silent. With recent events, Im sure most of you can agree with me, that standing idly by while things are happening only proves to add fuel to the fire. I am a firm believer in standing up for who you are. However, there is a fine line between instigating and standing up for who you are. Coming to work with a chip on your shoulder and giving attitude to everyone because you are tired of dealing with these types of scenario's will only make life harder. Instead standing up can be something as small as having a conversation with someone and showing them your point of view. Granted, you wont be able to change someone or their beliefs, however, at least you will feel better knowing you spoke up about who you are and what you are willing to accept and not accept in the work place.
Yes, sometimes it isn't that easy. Sometimes you will have to fight for those rights but remember, you standing up for who you are, says a lot about you. Especially in the eyes of your "adversary". It shows confidence, self worth and leadership.
Now don't get me wrong, Im not saying that showing up to work in "Lululemons" and a tank top is appropriate.(In some industries and work sites this is totally fine.) Common sense is a skill that isn't so common in most places. Knowing your job and the tasks at hand are the catalyst for what is appropriate in the work place. Seasons change and so do our selections for work attire. Safety requirements change from job to job, so having experience in your craft and sharing your experience with others will help mitigate the hazards that come with work wear selection. I know its hard to have those conversations with other people about what is safe and what isn't but if we expect to change the industry and the bullshit we have to deal with, we NEED to have these conversations and be the mentor to others. Again, you can't change someones behaviour but true change can start with a simple conversation.
Its up to us to instil change in our environments, what we will and will not accept in all areas of our lives. Taking the time to know ourselves and what we want in life and what our boundaries are, are imperative to change. I feel our biggest responsibility in life is to KNOW ONESELF. To change what we can within and to lead a life by example. Eyes are everywhere and our inner voice speaks by our actions. So pay attention to those whispers that you keep ignoring. Those gut feelings that we keep pushing aside for the sake of appeasing our friends, family and co workers. We have the power to create change, know your power and lead from it!
If you need help finding more information on work wear that is appropriate for your trade, stay tuned to our blog here on The Modern Tradeswomxn as we will continue to go in depth about the materials that work for specific trades and work environments. If you haven't checked out our most recent blog post on "Canvas" Read it here! "What is Canvas and Why You Need It In Your Work Arsenal"
Please feel free to comment and message us with your thoughts and opinions on what works for you and your industries!
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