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Sexism lurks behind off ices' diplomacy


Sir, I have been interested to track the responses to Ray O'Rourke's comments that a building site was not a 'place where women fit'.

I was surprised by the level of offence his comments caused and the decision of some women to reconsider their working relationship with him.

Any female working in the construction industry knows sexism exists. What also exists is a desire to change.

But the discussion never happens because our workplaces are centres of diplomacy and tact, where men and women are expected to keep quiet in case they cause offence.

I worked in the construction industry for three years. The truth is that, generally, men and women in this industry are keen to work to common goals to get the job done.

The construction industry is not the only sector renowned for its machismo. I congratulate Mr O'Rourke for speaking his mind.

Maybe it's time we started to talk about practices that do get in the way of high performance and embrace the diversity of the skills and talents that exist.

If we did, who knows, the UK might retain or improve on its ranking of sixth place in the world for competitiveness, rather than declining in ranking because of lack of innovation.

Tracy But terworth Director Handstand Hitchin Hertfordshire