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wtf? that's sexist!

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Manufacturing Horror Stories [Jan. 20th, 2010|08:18 pm]
wtf? that's sexist!


Figured that I'd post a few of these.  I want to note that work for female engineers/operators differs GREATLY by company.  In some, you'd be fired for this sort of behavior.  But in others...

I still remember working at one company where I was expected to be "one of the boys". I was called in and disciplined for, I kid you not, having a "high" voice.  (I work as an engineer. And yes, I'm a soprano. I have a high voice!)  Also, God forbid that my hair should be down in my cube.  Apparently long blonde hair = distracting. If it wasn't kept neatly up in a bun at all times, apparently I was "distracting" my poor male colleagues from their work...

And let's not even get into the supervisor who refused to listen to anything I had to say. He would purposefully ignore me (and any other women and/or non-white males).  Delightful...

My problems are no where near up there with a female coworker who has worked as an operator. She had one group of senior operators explain to her how she was only good for f%^ing, that she was a c$%^, etc. etc.  When she finally complained, she was promptly fired.

Yeah, we live in SUCH an egalitarian society.

Despite that, I think that in CERTAIN companies (i.e. my current one, I <3 Shell in many ways) being an engineer or operator is like the PERFECT job for a lot of women. It pays very well.  It allows you quite a bit of freedom.  There are almost no jobs other than engineering that allow you to support a family right out of school (or in the case of operators, that allow you to support a family without a college degree).  And being an engineer means that if I ever choose to work part time as I want to for family reasons, I can do so and still be in demand.  I honestly don't get why both more women don't do it and this insane sexism remains in certain "old boys" networks... 

[User Picture]From: ophe1ia_in_red
2010-01-21 07:52 am (UTC)
“I honestly don't get why both more women don't do it and this insane sexism remains in certain "old boys" networks... ”

I think you answered your own questions right there! :(
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[User Picture]From: mutive
2010-01-21 04:23 pm (UTC)
Well, except that it is only at certain companies. At a LOT of them, any behavior like this would be an instant out. It just really sucks as it's not like companies advertise with "we will be sexist jerks!"

And if you're at a company that is not like that, being an operator sure pays a lot better than "pink collar" type jobs. And being an engineer pays better than does any other job right out of college. (And generally years later, too!)
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[User Picture]From: akai_senshi
2010-01-21 11:41 pm (UTC)
It's a big old avalanche, really.
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[User Picture]From: adoxography_tea
2010-01-21 08:04 am (UTC)
Excuse my lack of knowledge, but what do engineers and operators do in your field?

Also, about the woman who was fired, I wish she would have sued.
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[User Picture]From: mutive
2010-01-21 02:20 pm (UTC)
I do too. But I understand why not. You sue, no one wants you as who knows if you were right or not? It's generally not worth it.

I work in chemical manufacturing, so there you go. Job duties differ by plant/location/material/company etc.
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[User Picture]From: fatpie42
2010-01-21 09:58 am (UTC)
When she finally complained, she was promptly fired.

So when's her compensation for wrongful dismissal coming through? They can't fire you for complaining about sexual harassment.
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[User Picture]From: blacksambuca
2010-01-21 10:27 am (UTC)
not supposed to does not equal can't
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[User Picture]From: fatpie42
2010-01-21 11:03 am (UTC)
Well obviously they can if you don't take legal action. It seems like a pretty solid case though.
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[User Picture]From: lvsinsanity
2010-01-21 04:55 pm (UTC)
They only problem there is, they can claim they fired her for other reasons and win the case against it.

I've seen it happen (works in a male field in diesel mechanics)
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[User Picture]From: corridor7f
2010-01-21 02:44 pm (UTC)
When I worked in the transportation (courier) industry for a small company, I got much the same. I was actually asked during an internal job interview if "I had a boyfriend or was planning to get married".

I didn't complain officially, I just left the company as I could afford to at the time and found something better.

Sadly, there is a bit of a risk in going full throttle and deciding to sue. So if someone chooses not to, I can't really blame them for it. It's costs money and can ruin your reputation with other former and future employers.
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[User Picture]From: viiltohaava
2010-01-21 03:37 pm (UTC)
She had one group of senior operators explain to her how she was only good for f%^ing, that she was a c$%^, etc. etc. When she finally complained, she was promptly fired.

Can I ask you where you live? I'm from Finland and if anyone ever in their lives tried to pull that out in here, they would be fired so fast that their asses would hurt a month after. I can't believe some people, it's like they're still living in the freaking stone age or something.

I hope she at least made a big fuss about it and told everyone about that company and how they treat their employees so no one ever again asks for their service. Sick.
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[User Picture]From: mutive
2010-01-21 04:24 pm (UTC)
The US. Yay. It is illegal. You can sue. But it's costly, you're not guaranteed to win, and even if you do, who wants to hire someone who starts lawsuits? It's really a crap shoot, so I don't blame someone for NOT doing it.
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[User Picture]From: skull_bearer
2010-01-21 04:11 pm (UTC)
Apparently long blonde hair = distracting. If it wasn't kept neatly up in a bun at all times, apparently I was "distracting" my poor male colleagues from their work...

I don't know about that, quite of lot of workplaces ask you to keep your hair short or tied up for health and safety reasons. I worked in a bakery and it was the same, for the reason of keeping hair out of food.
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[User Picture]From: mutive
2010-01-21 04:25 pm (UTC)
Well, in the plant I understand. Long hair = safety hazard if not back. Even in a formal business meeting, I can see that wild hair isn't exactly appropriate. But in my office? Give me a break...
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[User Picture]From: sexyhorny
2010-01-21 08:03 pm (UTC)
Why is it so strict in engineering in USA? Gosh... I'm really surprised. And I do agree with people who said that the woman should have sued them. Stop taking it from them and start fighting it. They'll continue to be idiots unless women start suing. Or take it to a big manager.
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[User Picture]From: uses4safetypins
2010-01-21 10:22 pm (UTC)
A question about that firing though don't these places have unions? I was under the impression that the unions were able to put an end to those types of shenanigans.
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[User Picture]From: mutive
2010-01-21 11:31 pm (UTC)
Sometimes the unions are the ones responsible. Often that's why some of this goes on. The unions are controlled by the "old boys", and management finds it easier to fire a woman who is unlikely to sue (for fear that she'll never be able to find another job as word gets around that she's trigger-happy) than it is to upset things with the union.

It's really, really sick. And it's this sort of behavior that makes me HATE working in union facilities. While I'm sure that some are great, an awful lot seem to be determined to keep the status quo, no matter how vile. (And, yeah, the non-union places I've worked have ALWAYS been better. Go figure...)
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[User Picture]From: uses4safetypins
2010-01-21 11:46 pm (UTC)
:( such a far cry from the I.W.W. days.

We need less bosses and more co-opts .
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[User Picture]From: mutive
2010-01-22 02:25 pm (UTC)
Eh, mob rule is no fairer than anything else. I'd really RATHER have a good boss than a bad co-op.
Sort of like how I often feel about US "democracy". We're not a democracy, we're a republic. It was intentionally done to protect the rights of the minority from the whims of the majority. It's a GOOD system. Democracy, in the hands of the "right" mob is no better than a totalitarian dictator. This so many unions have proven to me over the past decade...

I know that I'm in the "management" ranks and thus supposed to hate unions, but even objectively, it's realy hard for me to be OK with a group that is defending someone who oh, say, beat up a coworker, knifed someone at a bar, harassed a female coworker (badly, not just a word here and there, but continuing abuse), or, in one lovely case, pinioned a woman between the forks of a fork lift and a wall. I think that it's fair that I want these guys out of my plant, and really resent that the union has stopped me from firing them (and when the other union workers try to speak out? Yeah, they're then harassed to shut up and defend the guy. Real fair, right?) Again, not all are like that, but far too many are...
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[User Picture]From: uses4safetypins
2010-01-22 03:25 pm (UTC)
There are no good bosses just nice ones and how exactly does a voluntary community with people organizing themselves and taking over the means of production so that they can have complete control over their own lives and their own labor translate into mob rule?
Does that mean Chiapas Mexico is no better than Stalinist Russia?
Union nowadays (at least in the U.S.) have their own hierarchy so right there the idea has deviated into something far from it's original intent but the labor struggle in America is what got a lot of necessary labor reforms like the 8 hour work day, maternity leave, medical benefits, safe working conditions, child exploitation, ect. ect. and in many cases are still the only things keeping the workers from being totally exploited by those at the top. Now I'll concede to the fact that unions can be inefficient at best and counter productive at worst but that just needs we need to work harder at improving them instead of giving up our power hoping to get that one magical boss that'll take advantage of us less than all the other ones.
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[User Picture]From: mutive
2010-01-22 05:14 pm (UTC)
It depends a lot on the unions. I've seen them do good things. I've also seen them harass workers into not complaining about problems that are really major. And it sucks to be told, "We really want this incredibly unsafe thing stopped, but if you ask us to tell someone else to back you up, we won't because then the rest of the union members will come after us" far too often to be of the opinion that unions are these great and wonderful things. Some are marvelous. Some aren't. And I get REALLY annoyed when the many, many people who've never worked around one tell me how I'm this horrible, nasty, person for not believing that unionized labor is the best thing on earth.

Of course, if you have a bad union OR boss, you can always quit. (Great, that!) If your company treats you poorly, doesn't give you benefits, doesn't pay your wages on time, whaetver, go for it! Just neither is necessarily good or bad. The (non-union) people at my current work place get over time, benefits, 401Ks, etc. Many came from a better paying union facility to work here as conditions were so vile there (and allowed to be by the union, when not actually enforced by the union - trust me, most companies LIKE having good board operators, and the fact that they are female isn't a big deal) that they were willing to take a pay cut. Not that all unions are bad, but I've seen some really, really awful ones. And I've seen some that not only allow, but pretty much enforce the worst things about working in manufacturing.

One thing unions are great at? Keeping people from being fired. Great when it's for reasons like age, sickness, etc. Not so great when it's for things such as dangerous behavior, faking an injury to get time off work with full pay, harassing a co-worker, or other similar stuff. It's a mixed bag. I've generally found things to be better at non-union facilities, but some of that is likely because they tend to be in newer industries.

And no, the non-union guys don't make significantly less and/or have significantly worse benefits than the union guys. Maybe this is because companies know that the non-union could otherwise hop to the union companies otherwise, but...maybe it's because capitalism works. (i.e. if you can only hire people who do X for $20/hr, that's what you pay, or slightly more to keep the good ones)
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[User Picture]From: uses4safetypins
2010-01-22 06:25 pm (UTC)
hmm well your experience is certainly an interesting one and things like "I've also seen them harass workers into not complaining about problems that are really major are probably going to make me cry myself to sleep at night.

I don't know if I'd go so far as to say that the improvements in the work environment are the result of capitalism working so much as the collectivization of the worker and the human spirt in general can be a very powerful force for change.
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