A newspaper article titled “Women at the bottom of the ladder” left me very disturbed. It gave out statistics about how even though women play an equally important role in the civil engineering field at the mason level, they are terribly underpaid and usually not treated properly in the site.
According to studies, women, though preferred for the job by site engineers as they come regularly and do not cause any problems in the site, are paid almost half of what male masons earn; the exact amount being around Rs.165 for women and Rs.306 for men per day.
This doesn't mean they do any less work in the site. Right from carrying heavy materials to the top floors of the buildings and to passing the bricks from top to bottom in the scorching sun... You name it, they do it!
Usually, girls and boys are enrolled at the same age to work as labourers but unlike boys who graduate to being masons girls do not carry their jobs into the future as they get married. When they return to work they have to start again as labourers taking them a step back.
Even when some girls were gathered and provided an internship of onsite training following the post-tsunami period, at the end of their training almost all of them preferred to take up designing or other desk jobs since they knew they had no future in the field work.
So, I now would like appeal to my fellow civil engineers, especially women, to stop this trend. At least we should provide equal opportunity to those women who are talented and competent enough to work as masons and earn money equal to men. Having women as masons has numerous advantages and they should not be discriminated against based on gender. It's time for us to let the other women also be given the place we know they deserve.
SUNITHA R., II Year, Civil Engineering, Jerusalem College of Engineering