Painting and decorating: not just a man’s job

Painting and decorating: not just a man’s job


The painting profession is
a hit with women. A creative craft,
not an office job – both grounds for young women
to do painting apprenticeships. A lot of male painters
still work on building sites but the women aren’t
bothered. Only rarely do you
have to be ruthless, but that’s part of it too. Perhaps, you might not be
taken as seriously when you turn up and you’re
a little blonde girl. We just turn up
and do a good job. If someone says something stupid,
you either just ignore it or.. ..don’t get worked up about it. Meinrad Bieris’ painting firm
in Schachen in canton Lucerne only has women painters.
That’s how it turned out, he says. But the fact that more and more women are
learning the trade has partly to do with school grades. Nice afternoon.
Same to you, bye. Bye. Among the men are
relatively poor students. Somehow they come… When they can’t make it elsewhere,
they have a go at painting. We have better choices
among women. We can choose the
better graduates. They’ve already decided a year
before that they want to be painters. For the men it may be a stopgap. 3 months before finishing
school they decide, “I’m going to learn
painting”. Would-be painters
from central Switzerland attend the vocational
training school in Goldau. At the moment there are
90 men and 150 women. That was not
always the case. Within 20 years, the gender
relationship has switched. The proportion of painters in training
is steadily decreasing over the years. But female participation
is increasing. It is currently at 62%. Only
38% of apprentices are men. Female trainee painters are
in the majority in central Switzerland It’s a greater share than
the Swiss average – 43% women. The training director of
the vocational school can only speculate as
to why that is. I agree that above all
in the small cantons female apprentices try to get
a position close to home, whereas the guys look
further afield. I think it’s because of that. There was no particular
support for women, in the association of painters. The women discovered
the profession for themselves. And yet the painters are
ahead of other industries when it comes to equal rights. Our collective agreement
is designed to give women equality with men. We also have very good
maternity conditions. During a pregnancy,
women don’t have to do any
heavy lifting. We have to watch out for
solvents. And then, women get
16 weeks maternity leave. So I think our association
is quite progressive. Men and women are equally
competent as painters. This image has long prevailed
in this industry. But old stereotypes
are still there. If I’m the only woman
on the building site, men always come to me and ask: “Can I help you
carry that?” But I don’t
experience prejudice. You just have to treat
women differently. I can’t say
“Hey, homie!” Women are better at discussing
things with housewives,
and doing the finer work. “What would be a beautiful colour
to use here?” Men don’t not really care
what colour internal walls are painted. Men only care about the price. But the women
decide on this and it is better if the discussions
are woman to woman. Why does this profession,
in particular, appeal to more women? People in the industry
don’t really know.


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