Women transport workers address male dominated workplaces

The ITF has participated in the WIMDOI (women in male dominated occupations and industries) conference in Australia, setting out the tools and strategies needed to build stronger campaigns and organise women working in such transport workplaces.

The biannual conference has been going for 22 years and this year’s, from 21-23 November in Brisbane, was the biggest.

More than 130 women from Australia and New Zealand took part – including firefighters, paramedics, electricians and plumbers, alongside workers from the maritime, road, rail, forestry, construction, meat and manufacturing industries.

Train driver and RTBU (Rail, Tram and Bus Industry Union) member Renee Thomasson said: “Because of gender constraints in male dominated industries and the pressure on women to blend in with men, in my workplace there are still major barriers between women accepting other women and solidarity amongst women.

“So my experience at WIMDOI has been extremely empowering. It was inspiring to see women supporting each other and it has equipped me with skills and information to take back to my workplace to share with other women.”

See participants’ message of support to Nermin Al-Sharif.

Participants discussed campaign experiences and topics including training and skills development, gender injustice, pensions and economics. They shared union gender strategies, and strategies to build women’s confidence and influence in overwhelmingly male unions and workplaces. They also discussed the We Won’t Wait campaign and equal access to toilets.

ITF women transport workers’ co-ordinator Jodi Evans commented that this event gave many women a unique opportunity to share their experiences and find solutions to common problems. Importantly, it reinforced that they were not alone in their struggles and that the ITF union family is building a programme to support women working in male dominated occupations and challenge gender-based occupational segregation.

WIMDOI is organised by a committee of seven women, which includes Mich-Elle Myers, (ITF Asia Pacific women’s representative and Maritime Union of Australia national officer) and ITF union the RTBU.

WIMDOI participants also:

• Demonstrated in advance of the Queensland state elections on 25 November

• Rallied in support of the 1,000 dockworkers sacked by ICTSI

Read about the ITF’s work on ICTSI. 

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