He says, “Being a father of both boys and girls you see that they play differently, if they have half an hour to play girls will spend 20 minutes making up the rules and 10 minutes playing whereas boys spend 5 minutes making the rules and 25 minutes playing. When my daughter plays rugby at halfback she is really valuable as she remembers everything the coach has said. It’s probably a similar thing at work. Women will think about the process instead of just charging in.”
Recently Simona Ghidoni joined Properly Plastered. Glenn wasn’t worried about his staff’s reaction to having a woman on the team. “Before Simona came I just got the boys around and said that we had to show her that New Zealand males can actually be decent people.
“I have a daughter who is not unlike Simona and she enjoys getting out and working with her hands. I like to think that one day someone will give my daughter the opportunity, so why wouldn’t I? I would also like to think that my daughter will be treated right. I won’t be happy if the boys don’t treat her properly or respectfully. So that is the approach I take with the boys at work. A lot of them are fathers, so I say ‘would you be happy if your daughter went to a workplace and wasn’t treated fairly or given an opportunity just because she was a girl?’ Differences can be complementary.
“Simona’s attitude toward work helped her become an accepted member of our crew. She is always jumping in, she doesn’t like standing around and she is keen to work. We enjoy having her on site she is a good worker and fits in well,” says Glenn.
Like many jobs in the Building and Construction industry, exterior plastering is a physically demanding job. Glenn says, “Exterior plastering is like playing two games of rugby a day with no time to recover and you have to go back the next day, and the next and do it again. I think Simona is mentally tough enough to do that. In fact it’s refreshing to give someone an instruction and they go away and do it and when they finish that they don’t just stand around, they come back and look for more work.”
When we talk to employers about women on site often the reason not to have female staff is as simple as needing to provide separate toilets. “The toilet excuse is nonsense, it’s not like 10 years ago, the port-a-loos are cleaned once a week. It is a non-issue. If there is no toilet Simona just borrows the van and pops down the road in the breaks.
“There’s nothing uncomfortable about employing women into a construction environment, in fact it creates a good balance having a woman on site you just have to be prepared to face things differently.”