'Our Bodies Are On The Line': What Happens When Female Tradies Have To Wear Men's Work Clothes
Tradeswomen feel less safe, more self-conscious and even like they 'don't belong' on their work sites when wearing ill-fitting work clothing.
Those are the worrying findings from The Bisley Workwear Tradies Report 2020, which examined the huge impact that workwear -- which is almost exclusively designed and made for men's bodies -- has on women working in the industry.
Female tradies may also be putting themselves in danger on work sites due to a lack of of protective clothing options available to them, the research found. Nearly half of those surveyed confessed to wearing non-safety or casual clothing because of their limited options, while 60 percent said they've worn ill-fitting workwear designed for men.
The report also revealed that one-in-three women feel like they can’t work as hard as they want to, due to badly-fitting clothing.
Now, a long-overdue push to make work clothing available that's tailored to female bodies and diverse figures is hoping to boost safety and comfort for tradeswomen across the industry.
Coralie Stewart is a qualified landscaper and horticulturalist, and one of five women consulted by Bisley to help design a new line of garments.
Stewart, who has experience in beauty and design, said looking and feeling good helps everyone be able to do their work.
"I can't expect to be taken seriously when I have to wear big, baggy clothes and I look like a 15-year-old boy," she said.
“We are in 2020. Clothing is the final piece for our full acceptance into the construction workforce.
"It’s not to be written off as a fashion parade -- it’s a need.”
The new range is designed specifically for how tradeswomen move and work, with variations in fit and size, and with functionality and professionalism in mind, according to the manufacturer.
Other companies have also jumped on board the initiative, including Green Hip and Melbourne-based SÜK.
Aimee Stanton was also involved with the design of Bisley's new line, and said it was"brilliant" to be able to "road-test" the clothes.
"I feel safer on the work site when I'm wearing clothes which I know have been designed specifically for women,” she said.
“Our bodies are on the line -- if work wear is not catered for us, it becomes a safety issue."
Stewart said that when she's worn men's workwear the material wears through faster in certain areas, and the garments don't usually fit her figure.
"It doesn’t fit around my waist, and it's too long in the crotch," she said. "It's dangerous for climbing a ladder."
But she said wearing the new clothing designed for women has made a huge difference in her safety and comfort.
"Since the buttons are made differently, I don't need to worry about my bra showing or it spilling out," she said.
A huge majority of female tradies -- nearly three in four -- said their biggest problem finding suitable workwear is finding clothes that fit.
Bisley Workwear’s Managing Director and Owner, David Gazal, said his company is proud "to help reduce on-site safety inequalities".
"When our research revealed that tradeswomen were feeling unsafe and uncomfortable on the worksite, we realised the need for a new industry-wide approach to women’s workwear," he said.