“Women are not physically capable enough to do certain work”. This has been the argument of patriarchy for many years now for restricting a woman to a domestic corner. But here are some women who have proved the otherwise.
Katie Gillard, truck driver
There are 300,000 truck drivers in the UK, of whom 0.5% are women. Katie works for Tarmac at a quarry in Wiltshire.
She had left college with a full qualification to get involved in social work, but found that it did not suit her. she passed the class 1 articulated lorry test the very first time. She was the only girl in the examination hall.
She enjoys driving and ignores condescending stares of those she believes are thinking “You’re only a young girl and you’re driving a big lorry.” She has even faced discrimination from male drivers who do not co operate with her just because she is a girl, but she chooses to move on.
Alison Miller, train driver
Alison drives trains out of Glasgow Central for ScotRail. Alison is also on Aslef’s Women’s Representative Committee.
She is very adept at what she does, having been doing this for six years. She likes the variety that her job offers, with different types of trains to drive, and some of the places she drives are beautiful.
She has always worked in male-dominated areas: bars, a car dealership and a car-stereo company. She has degrees in geography and social work, but this is something she enjoys. It is different and exciting and makes her meet different people. She faces a lot of discrimination, but the fact that she is a personification of a subversion of a system thrills her.
The uniform is horrendous. She has to wear men’s steel-capped shoes. “And the drivers’ jacket is supposedly unisex, but really you go out looking like you are wearing your partner’s clothes”. This also points to the very sexist structure of the system because it does not even consider women to have this job.
Caroline Lake, mechanic
Caroline is a mechanic and the founder of Caroline’s Cars, a female–friendly garage in Norfolk.
She had always had a fascination with cars. She read car magazines and knew all about them/
At 27she made a deal with a Japanese car company. she asked the mechanic to take her on as an unpaid apprentice frequently. She began as a tea girl and the butt of most of the jokes, never gave it up. She started to do more hours, and after a few years she sat for the MOT NVQ exams.
Like others she has faced a lot of sexism and discrimination in the industry. But she has taught hundreds of women – and men – basic mechanics.
“I think there are so few women because it’s a stereotypical male environment, but I plan to change that. There is no reason women can’t do it. I often speak at schools to promote it to young girls; to tell them that this is actually quite a cool job. I hope to have garages across the country where women can train.”
Charlotte Harbottle, butcher
Charlotte has just moved from specialist butcher Lidgate’s in London’s Holland Park to owning her own shop, Charlotte’s Butchery, in Newcastle. Of 7,000 butchers in the retail meat industry, Charlotte is one of the 0.04%
“There have been a few occasions when I was serving and the customer asked to speak to a butcher. I would say nothing and get another butcher to help them. But my colleagues would usually tell them I’m the best person to talk to anyway.”
The job is mechanical and requires specialised skills to do right. She does not consider herself a feminist. She just thinks there should be good butchers who know exactly what they are doing with a carcass.
She studied theology at York University, and then worked in a butcher’s shop part-time. When she graduated, she got a job as a proofreader, but I hated working in an office. So she chose a career that would offer her freedom as well as a certain sense of doing things out of the box and proving a point to society as well.
It is not just abroad, but in our own country too that we have stories like this.The difference here is that here it is mostly the last resort. However it still proves the point that women are capable. For example,
43-year-old Sushma from Baleshwar pulls a rickshaw everyday to make her both ends meet. Left alone by her husband to fend for herself, she came to this small town and decided to take up rickshaw pulling. She faced domestic abuse and took this as her final option.For awoman of her class to start afresh and lead a new life with no career or contacts, is a Herculean task. She refuses to beg because she can work. Male rickshaw pullers of Baleshwar admired her zeal and determination to be self-sufficient, that they have fondly nicknamed her as ‘Big Brother’. Women are becoming bread winners in the lower classes because most of the husbands are alcoholic and abusive.