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Women, manufacturing and fork-lift truck driving

by Claire Martinsen on Fri 08th Mar 2013 18:26

Today is International Woman’s Day – a global event around the world….aiming to raise the role of women. It’s even a national holiday in 27 countries.

Since its birth in the socialist movement, International Women’s Day has grown to become a global day of recognition and celebration across developed and developing countries alike.  Women’s organisations and governments around the world have also observed IWD annually on 8 March by holding large-scale events that honour women’s advancement and while diligently reminding of the continued vigilance and action required to ensure that women’s equality is gained and maintained in all aspects of life

Here in the UK, it probably doesn’t get as much recognition and awareness as other countries – I’m a Radio 5 freak  and it’s barely had a mention all day. Whilst on one hand that’s a shame, on the other hand we should be grateful for the great work that Mrs Pankhurst et al did in the early part of last century, which means that women are very much on a more of an equal footing in the UK than in other countries.  I’ve been proud to play a teeny-tiny part through involvement with Lexia Media, who’ve been shouting about International Women’s Day via a constantly updated blog and via Twitter and the hashtag #whatwomenthink

I spotted a comment on Twitter this morning from someone I follow which said :

bah humbug. Sorry #IWD fans, I don’t need to celebrate being born with XX chromosomes. I really don’t get it… we’re all just people.

This comment was from a female, and no doubt 100% its what she believes……..  But the person is also in a consultancy/service industry, which made me reflect that its sometimes very different when you work in a manufacturing industry.  As a female in a manufacturing sector it can feel a little surreal sometimes, and I sometimes feel like I am facing into some strong stereotypes.

Women and Manufacturing

It seems it’s not just me who has stumbled across the issue. Last night I was in Birmingham with a whole host of females who ran engineering companies – full on steel constructions, parts for engines etc…..the real macoy.  One of them was an MD of a company which bore her husband’s name.  She recounted a story that most people still thought she was ‘helping’ him out, and that somehow she was just putting in a bit of support behind the scenes rather than being the powerhouse that ran it.

I’ve come across plenty of that – people still believe there must be a man lurking somewhere in the background of Breckland Orchard, that my husband is ‘funding me’, that there are some male backers  etc etc.  There aren’t.  Do men have the same issue I sometimes wonder?  Do male business owners have to prove that there isn’t a woman really running it behind the scenes?

Learning to drive a Fork-lift

I’m a qualified fork lift truck driver and have my license to prove it.  If you need me to come round a shift a few pallets of product then I’m your girl.

The story behind getting my license is quite funny!  I phoned up a local Norfolk company to get the training – I had a good conversation with the person on the other end of the line……but she seemed a little reluctant to actually ‘seal the deal’ and agree a booking.  Eventually she told me to email across the names of the people who needed training.  So I told her the training was for me!  That kind of floored her, and she apologised profusely and said she’d assumed I was a PA phoning up to investigate booking for some ‘men’.  Infact they hadn’t trained a woman in so long that the women’s toilets hadn’t been required on site for about 3 years. Like I say….sometimes you come across unintentional sexism in the strangest of situations


Does it annoy me?  Quite honestly, not really……I just have an internal chuckle to myself, and it actually gives me more determination, more energy to really go for it and succeed…….so far from feeling being in a manufacturing sector is a negative, I use it to be more tenacious.

Most of the time the world does feel very equal……….just at very small snapshot in time it doesn’t…….and that’s why International Womens Day is a day to be celebrated.

Happy International Women’s Day!



Posted in: Women and Business


fork lift training
Tue 23rd Apr 2013 06:47
Is matters not what sex of a person is when they come to learning how to drive a fork lift truck, all we want is commitment, and to listen and learn. Women do this just aswell as men! and some may say even better!

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