The New School has long been an intellectual hub for progressive education for decades. Eleanor Roosevelt, Ani DiFranco, and Donna Karen are just a few of the notable alumni who have been pioneers in their fields of politics, music, and fashion.
In a school built on the foundations of the freedom of thinking outside the box and radical thought, it is of great surprise that the construction of one of the most important buildings of The New School should only be built by men. The construction workers building the new university center on 65th Street are all men. Even the “topping out” ceremony that took place on May 18, 2012, for the new University Center to be completed in full by 2013, consisted of mostly men and one woman. The fact that 73 percent of the students are women makes this even more shocking.
One could argue that there are typically less women to be found among construction workers in general. According to the Department of Labor in 2009, less than one percent of 77,000 U.S. ironworkers are female. Woman made up 10% of the construction industry workforce, occupying 970,200 of the country’s 9,702,000 construction jobs, according to the National Association of Women in Construction. Yet construction jobs account for 66 percent of jobs in America.
Though in today’s 21st century working world, and at such a progressive institution, such news is shocking.
There is a nationwide group that advocates and protects women’s rights in construction. The National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC), was founded in 1953 in Fort Worth, Texas, by 16 women working in the construction industry. They knew that women represented only a small fraction of the construction industry. NAWIC officially gained its national charter two years after its founding, providing opportunities for professional development, education, networking, leadership training, and public service for its members.
Despite the fact that the percentage of women in construction and blue-collar jobs continues to remain fairly low, in other sectors of the workforce women are taking over many of what were once considered traditional well-paid male white-collar jobs. Many doctors and lawyers since the 1970s are now women. And in 2009 one fourth of all CEOs were women, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
With more women working in white-collar jobs, many traditionally pink-collar jobs – like nurses, secretaries, or tellers – are being taken over by men, which leads us to question these new trends. If women are moving into traditionally white collar male occupations, and a good number of men are moving into traditionally pink collar female occupations, could it be that one day men and women will have switched career roles with one another?