Color Coding Cat Callers

Preventing Sexism In a World of Hard Hats

WTF Is Going On? | Ana Lopez | May 16, 2016

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A color coding system for catcalling-hard hat workers has been created by Greenland Forest City Partners, a Brooklyn construction company. Harassment is, sadly, nothing new when it comes to NYC construction workers, but apparently this specific Brooklyn site has received numerous complaints. In response to these harassment complaints, the company has come up with a color coding hard hat system, in which workers will wear color-coded stickers that represent the subcontractor they are with, so women can more easily identify and complain about them.

For example, one man that’s working for a certain contractor will wear a purple sticker on his hard hat, while a different one working for a non-New York based company will wear a blue sticker. If one of these men cat call a woman, she can complain to the specific sub-contractor with a higher chance of being able to identify the specific man and an actual change resulting from such a sexual harassment complaint.

There’s a little impracticality in this system that should be considered, though. Aside from the disgusting fact that there’s an assumption that your workers are going to sexually harass women while on the job, who’s to say they will actually follow the rules?

A sticker system in a contracting job that involves a lot of dirt, dust, wind, and heat doesn’t sound like the most practical way to keep workers in check. There’s the technical issues like the fact that the stickers could melt, rip off, or be switched by other workers to avoid identification. Then there’s the bigger issue at hand: if it is the goal, is a sticker system really going to stop men from sexually harassing women? They do it because they don’t fear trouble; they don’t care. The sexist culture that seems to mirror the “masculine” culture of construction jobs.

One woman, Leah Voss, interviewed by CBS NY, even said,“It’s part of the construction, hard hat atmosphere.”

The chances of a sticker completely changing that are probably slim to none. Instead of a solution, we’re practicing prevention; a process that shouldn’t be required when it comes to treating women like…people.