Sep. 28, 2009 As London Fashion Week comes to a close, British women working in the engineering, science, technology and construction sectors are calling on clothing manufacturers to fashion better and safer clothing for women.
“There are over 65,000 women working in engineering, technology and construction, that's around ten percent of the workforce,” says Jan Peters, president of the Women’s Engineering Society (WES), “But women are built differently from men and find that work-wear is not satisfactory. Inappropriate and ill-fitting clothing can put them off from pursuing careers in these sectors.”
“We need the makers of safety wear – work boots, high visibility jackets, protective gloves and the like - to cater for our needs. We don’t necessarily want fashion – although we want to look smart and professional – we just want clothes that fit!”
WES is launching a survey on its website (http://www.wes.org.uk), Sept. 25, for women working in science, engineering, technological and construction industries to share their stories about work wear and safety clothing. Women and Manual Trades (WAMT) and the Association of Women in Property (WIP) along with other women’s support groups are joining in the survey, making it a cross-sector initiative.
“Anecdotal reports abound of women carrying multiple pairs of socks on site visits to make too-big boots fit and of having to fight flapping jacket sleeves to use a camera,” continued Jan. “We want to find out just how widespread the problems are so that we can team up with manufacturers to produce well-fitting clothing.”
WIP national chairman, Joanna Embling, comments: “Although the TUC have debated whether women should have to wear high heels as part of work dress codes on health and safety grounds, they have not considered the safety issues involved when women are required to use work clothing provided by employers that is simply too big. There is far too much potential for accidents on construction sites through women tripping over their newly acquired size 10 feet. Women are highly qualified professionals who, not unreasonably, want to work under the same conditions as their male counterparts. Where safety clothing is concerned, they are at a distinct disadvantage.”
These support groups for women are inviting women working in manufacturing or construction trades or whose job requires them to wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to fill in a short survey and contribute their stories. There is also a Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=36960724112&ref=mf) where women can post pictures of themselves struggling to tame oversized clothing.
“This is a serious issue,” says Niki Luscombe, CEO of Women and Manual Trades. “Safety clothing should be just that – clothing that helps workers to stay safe on construction sites. Instead, for many women it is something that can make them work less efficiently, and in some cases, actually compromise their safety.”
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