Thursday, February 20, 2020
Sign of the times
There is a first time for everything.
For me, the first inclusive construction sign, "MEN AND WOMEN AT WORK" was spied last Sunday on a hoarding around a new building going up at 60 Charlton Street in Soho, next to the Four Points Sheraton we were staying at.
Female construction workers are still a rarity: 3.4 percent, according to The Institute for Women's Policy Research, though that rises to 1 in 10 if you consider back office and administrative roles in the construction rate. Women, perhaps surprisingly, enjoy more equity in construction, being paid 94 cents for every dollar earned by a man (compared to 81 cents on the dollar generally).
The signs were introduced in September, 2018, by Plaza Construction as part of their "female-friendly initiative," according to the New York Post.
I like the signs because they are an example of positive usage: trying to change attitudes by changing your own behavior, rather than hectoring others to change theirs. I assume Plaza Construction doesn't go around yanking down less enlightened "Men at Work" signs.
Speaking of the new building, it inspires a funny moment when we first checked in. The clerk gave us a room on the 16th floor. We went to it, set down our bags, opened the curtains, and saw four construction workers, at eye level, on a scaffolding 10 feet away. My wife waved at them. One waved back.
The room was loud. My wife and I looked at each other, picked up our bags, and went back downstairs and asked for another room. The Four Points clerk was very nice about it, and gave us a room on the 20th floor, on the opposite side of the building. We went up to that, dropped our bags, and realized that it was far, far louder than the first room had been.
"But this is the last time," I told my wife as we went downstairs. The Four Points clerk was, again, incredibly nice returning key cards to the first room to us. Now it seemed much quieter, by comparison, and noise never bothered us. We slept like babes.