Women Construction Workers

For many years now, women have been making strides toward equal employment. The Boston TV News Digital Library has reels and reels of original footage about the women’s liberation movement, many focusing on equal job opportunities in particular, including coverage of the Women’s Strike for Equality.  The Strike for Equality was a series of demonstrations around the United States, sponsored by the National Organization for Women. In addition to fighting for equal opportunities in the job market, these women called for more political rights and social equality, especially in marriages. At the time there were both men and women who responded negatively to these causes, thinking that women could not handle what they were asking for and/or would lose their femininity and delicacy if they got equal opportunities.

[caption id="attachment2324" align="alignright" width="300"]Woman Construction Worker Interview with woman construction worker in 1970. Watch the <a href="http://bostonlocaltv.org/catalog/BPL3VISGC6U36S8JW8">full story.[/caption]

Along with the original footage in the collection, we also have a short edited story covering a specific dispute, which occurred in 1970. Rosemarie VanCamp reports about a construction contractor who was told by an inspector from City Hall that the female construction workers on his team couldn’t work. VanCamp interviews two women construction workers who are angry about being told they can’t work. They say that of course they can do the type of work; women have been doing it for hundreds of years. VanCamp also seeks out the opposing view, interviewing a City Hall representative. The actual details of the dispute are somewhat unclear. VanCamp says there is no legal reason that women aren’t allowed to work construction jobs, unless they are required to lift more than 40 pounds. The women construction workers respond to that regulation, saying that they aren’t required to lift 40 pounds, but they could, and so they think the law should be changed.

I really like this news story because VanCamp lets the people involved speak for themselves. Even though it’s only comprised of short blurbs from each party, the tone and attitude comes through. It really captures the feeling of the time, or at least I think it does. Do you agree? Do you know more about the details of this story, or have other similar stories to share?