Bitch Magazine is celebrating women in male-dominated industries for Labor Day. I thought it would be nice to share our experiences in that regard. (I would also like to include all non-cisgender people as well.)
I have worked in a produce distribution warehouse, the oldest women-owned warehouse of its kind, I believe. I was a female-dominated workplace in a male-dominated industry. It was heavy labor, we built boxes of produce onto pallets and shipped them all over the West. By the end of my time there I was loading and unloading semis with a forklift. About half of us were women and the most of my co-workers were part of the LGBGT community.
It was an explicitly feminist work environment, but wasn’t consistent in its values (the HR person refused to use the correct pronoun for a transgender co-worker, for example.) Occasionally I would get an outside truck driver try to “coach” me through unloading pallets of freight (as if I hadn’t done it hundreds of times before), but most of the regulars were cool and knew our deal.
I have also worked in the Alaskan fishing industry (the processing side of things.) That was ... different. Women were extremely out-numbered. Harassment was just so normal there. I once punched a fisherman in the throat after he grabbed my ass and my supervisor saw the whole thing. He simply said, “Well, it looks like you handled it well yourself.” I would like to say that I fought for my right to be free from harassment harder than I did, but I was working 100+ hours a week and didn’t have the energy. I found allies in each cannery (one of whom I married.) There were a lot of demeaning experiences, but I also learned how to weld (and other badass things) from the good guys.
(Me in Alaska, inspecting cans and using my hoodie as a shield.)
(In the warehouse. Trying to get a liftgate from a semi down, I’m in the middle. We’re literally jumping up and down because the damn thing was stuck.)
What are your experiences in male-dominated fields?