Five of the six female mechanics working for the Washington, D.C. Metro are applying for six manager’s positions in the male-dominated rail maintenance division. Metro is trying to increase the number of women in higher-up positions.
Currently there are 1,446 women out of 8,173 employees. The mechanics’ supervisor, Lemuel Proctor, says he would like to see the women in his division so that they could make conditions better for all women Metro workers.
Sandra Barton, a 37-year-old mechanic, said, “I’d see my sisters coming home from their secretarial jobs, looking very nice but complaining about their jobs and their pay.” The top-ranked mechanics make $45,000 a year in base pay with chances for additional money in overtime and shift-work.
Mechanic Sherri Sims commented on the problems that persist as one of a few female workers. “Sexual harassment used to happen all the time. It was ongoing …. And it still exists, but I know how to deal with it. I let them know if it’s too blatant. I have to say, ïThis is not acceptable.’ Also in the past, I had to suffer retribution when I complained. Now I don’t. They know it’s against the rules.”
Several of the women mechanics received training from Wider Opportunities for Women, an organization which help women obtain non-traditional jobs.
Mechanic Sarah Reynolds leads a group of non-traditional women workers in a group called Women’s Work Inc. The women speak at high schools and community groups. “I tell them there are advantages, like the money. It’s much better than traditional jobs. And some mechanical work, you can do at home. But the most important this, is doing something you really want,” said Reynolds.