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Women Working in Manufacturing Plants

Here's a story from The New York Times, "Meet the Woman in Charge of Building the Best-Selling Pickup Truck in America", by Tiffany Hsu that I thought you'd find interesting:

Debbie Manzano will run a plant making Ford's F-150 trucks, but female workers still make up less than 30 percent of employees in manufacturing companies. 

I have represented women working in automotive factories since 1996. Sometimes these cases involve sex harassment, others are a disability or Family Medical Leave. Some are sex discrimination, concerning lack of promotional opportunities to coveted positions.

One basic problem with automotive plant hiring has always been that the way to get a job "in the plant" is to know someone in that plant. A practice of "who you know" hiring remains incredibly susceptible to discrimination.

Foreman and supervisor positions often require enormous hours, and for many mothers, in particular, such jobs are incompatible with their other obligations. So the supervising bosses are routinely male. The exceptions stand out.

These discriminatory practices result in women inside many factories feeling like they are a beleaguered minority, vulnerable and forced to tolerate conditions that their fellow female employees who work in offices do not routinely experience to the same degree. 

Sex harassment in factories remains a serious problem, although I am pleased to report that I detected over the past twenty years some improvement, both in the number of incidents and the level of assaultive behavior.

We still have far to go, and this firm remains proud to keep pushing. 

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