No Girls Allowed

It’s entirely anecdotal, of which I’m always wary in a news story, but if it’s a true indicator of a larger problem then this is the type of story that depresses me.

A young woman, recently graduated from a trade programme in New Brunswick is moving to Alberta. Her reason? Employers won’t hire a woman. According to her story, one of the men who interviewed her for a position said:

‘I’m not having a 20-something-year-old girl running around here getting the attention from all the guys and creating problems with their wives and problems with my wife. So I’m not hiring any women,’

It is her mere existence, apparently, that would “create problems” for men and this, of course, is entirely her responsibility.

And so she’s taking her trade skills and going to Alberta, where she will likely make more money than the guy who refused to hire her, lest her wanton beauty drive him and his manly men to distraction.

And it’s New Brunswick’s loss. There is an idea among politicians and business leaders in my old home province that, if you want to stop the brain drain, you just need to offer more money to young people. But if one thing is true about Maritimers, it’s that they’re not driven necessarily by money. Yes, it is a motivating factor but the reason most people either come back to or stay in the Maritimes is the quality of life. You never may be rich and trendy but your house has a yard at least.

People also leave there for similar reasons. They want to experience a lifestyle that they don’t find at home. Perhaps something more urban, a faster pace, more multicultural, and with more opportunities to advance their career. And with more contemporary attitudes toward gender.

If New Brunswick wants to keep its skilled tradespeople, then it needs to jettison the quaintly antiquated attitudes toward women.

The Next Day – The story is being denied by the employer in question.


13 thoughts on “No Girls Allowed

  1. you know, it’s kind of frustrating to live here… i mean, i chose to move back. i’ve been elsewhere, i had job offers for other provinces – but i really like new brunswick. the cost of living is cheap, the people are friendly, and it’s laid back. plus, i love the st john river and the kennebeccasis in the summer… imagine how much i’d have to pay to have this much access in ontario to the waterways.
    but there is also a negativism that permeates the place – i mean, look at jay chang’s “is the telegraph journal a tabloid” facebook group as an example. this is an elected official, someone who is supposedly representing my interests in the city, who instead of actually doing something to promote my city just bitches about the t-j’s (admittedly biased) coverage creates a facebook group to complain in a public forum. could there be a less effective way of making a statement, i ask. it’s just… frustrating.
    dan culberson had a really good photo on his photoblog a couple weeks ago that kind of exemplifies what new brunswick is right now. it’s a shed on long wharf being demolished, with a big container ship alongside, while they build condos in the background. it’s got growth… but it’s in the background. what we’re focusing on is the old industries, the old economy, as they get demolished and what is going to replace it? something temporary. in this case, literally – tents for the cruise ships, while they wait for federal money to help pay for the new terminal.
    it’s just… the same. you know?

  2. So sad. However, blaming New Brunswick as a whole for the actions of a single person falls into the same category of actions the not-to-be employer is being accused of.

    It’s a beautiful province. Married a girl from there and visit as often as possible.

    Plus, the surveillance on the 1 is nearly non-existent. Saint John to Moncton in 35 minutes! (Sadly that would, in reality, raise the global temperature by another 1 degree.)

  3. Mare – yeah, that Jay Chang thing was really weird.

    It’s true that you don’t want to allow comments by one person to colour your perception of an entire place but it does happen. Also, having lived in New Brunswick for 30 years, the kind of attitude expressed by the contractor is sadly familiar.

    I admire people who stay and try to drag the place into the 21st century but it’s an uphill battle. And it’s not to say that Quebec or any other province has a monopoly on being progressive, either. But NB is losing people and it doesn’t help matters when certain people are actively driving them out.

  4. I call it the “talking donkey” treatment. Over the years I’ve had to get used to the fact that as a woman/renovator living in NB, I can’t drop by the lumber yard to place a big order without getting ignored completely or asked ten times -“Are you sure that’s what you really need?”. I can’t call the power company to request service because they’ll hand me over to a ‘line’ man, and these guys will always call back to “make sure” it’s what my husband “really wants”. I can’t even phone up my chimney cleaner to scrub us out. He’ll make up reasons to not drop by, until my husband finally calls and assures him that he’ll be home. As a woman, I’m treated like a talking donkey, an animal that belongs to my husband and shouldn’t even know how to talk, let alone how to renovate her own house. Sexism [at least in the construction industry] isn’t hidden here, it’s blatant. I feel for that electrician and it’s sad that she’s leaving. NB really needs smarter and younger qualified electricians like her.

    BTW is it really cheaper to live here? I’ve been told NB’ers pay some of the highest food prices in all of Canada. And our gas prices aren’t exactly low either. Aren’t we all here for the slower pace of life and the fake Victorian politeness? I know I am. [g]

  5. lol, rachel!!! my aunt is so the mistress of fake victorian politeness. AND she has a subscription to “majesty” magazine to boot.

    my pace of life doesn’t feel so slow this week, but then, i have a compulsive need to be busy.

    i should say, john, that jay chang dissed/patronized one of my students on said facebook site, and you KNOW nobody messes with my kids. so i’m not exactly impartial.

    but it is frustrating to live here, and to want to live here, and to enjoy the many good things of living here, only to come up against such things like the sexism (and sometimes the racism) and the class conflict and the constant negativity. it’s frustrating to see it passed on through the kids.

    i don’t think the food prices are that high – some are, for sure, but i think it depends on what you buy. and yes, the gas prices are high, but they are everywhere right now so i don’t think that’s necessarily a marker.

    what i miss is more the food selection that was in other cities. and chapters. i miss chapters, because they won’t build one here as apparently we are illiterate (or, they know we’ll drive the hour to get to one, so why lose more money).

  6. Housing prices are definitely cheaper in the Maritimes and I know I’d be paying more for food if I didn’t budget and price compare properly (I recently discovered that it’s cheaper to buy local produce at the Lachine market than at the supermarket – $20 will get fresh vegetables for two weeks, easy). Gas is more expensive in Quebec than NB but Ontario and Alberta are still cheaper.

    Speaking of pace of life, my brother in law is working on a contract in Charlottetown. He’s been enthusiastic about the friendliness, the seafood, the climate but a bit confounded that everything is. .. sooooo…..sloooooooooow.

  7. It’s true, while the pace of life is wonderful during visits, and I’ve thought of moving there as a result, I don’t know if I could actually take it on a long-term, no-end-in-sight, basis.

  8. For the first time, I saw a woman rebar worker the other day in Pointe Claire. I don’t think I’ve seen more than five women in the ten years I’ve been on construction sites. And usually they were in go-fer positions. In addition it was quite a first to see a woman doing the heavy lifting in one of the real macho divisions. I hope more woman will make it to construction sites. I’m really not a fan of machoism.

  9. JOhn, as you know, my sister worked on construction sites for years. She was the first woman hired by the company to work outside of the office. When she first started she was whistled at, accused of not knowing what she was doing, considered too weak…etc. Some contractors specifially asked us NOT to send ‘the chick’ to their sites. When she LEFT the company a few years later, these same contractors were very sad to see her leave because she was one of the best at what she did. She was originally sent out in to the field because our boss was desperate for workers but after she showed how good she was, he continued to hire women. He was one of the good ones.

    It’s a VERY slow process, but women are beginning to work in traded and it’s a good thing. I hope that NB girl makes a pile of money in Alberta.

  10. The other significant difference in cost of living is the tax rate. NB has a significantly higher tax rate than Ontario. It works out to a couple of grand at a 50k a year income.
    Couple that with the higher cost of big ticket items like cars, and the limited competition between stores, I’d say that in the end it can almost average out.

    Of course, if someone tried to charge $40 for a hamburger in SJ, there’d be no takers. =) Here there’d be a line-up.

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