You stumble upon a bar.

You stumble upon a bar.

By Wendy Morris

Operations Manager at Turf Wicket Maintenance.


You stumble upon a bar and enter.  Everyone inside is female and Taiwanese.  Most ladies are between thirty-five and fifty-five and you can tell by the way they look at you that they’re surprised you’re there.  One of them may ask you your favourite Taiwanese beer, and if you fail to answer, she and several others scoff at you. It’s not an auspicious or enjoyable start to your evening.


Next door is a bar that friends and family have recommended.  Inside, everyone else is the same demographic as you.  You know the beer, you know all of the ‘rules’ and you won’t stand out.  You know you will feel safe and welcome and if you don’t fit in, you won’t take it personally – you already know of a similar bar down the street, where other friends go, where you know the rules, and where everyone is the same demographic as you.


Where are you going to go?  Probably the second bar. The first bar wasn’t welcoming, you didn’t feel at home and in reality, if you hadn’t accidentally stumbled upon it, you wouldn’t have even known it existed.   If you consider the first bar is a sports field complex and the second a supermarket, it should give you some insight as to why greenkeepers are overwhelmingly white and male (government statistics show that only 3% of greenkeepers are female*).  


Now let’s say you’re the owner of the first bar, and you want to expand your business.  You want some white blokes to come along, spend their money and drink your beer.  Running an ad in the paper isn’t going to help.  You need to go out there and make your bar inviting.


That, in a nutshell, is why there aren’t more women in greenkeeping, and what you need to do to if you want to attract a broader range of employees.


There are certainly those in greenkeeping who prefer male workforces.  Men can, as a rule, lift heavier stuff, and if every employee is male, there is no need to worry about ordering in a uniform that fits a woman.  On the flip side, women have a better reputation for maintaining machinery and paying attention to detail, and if you’re not gender specific, your pool of potential employees is a lot higher – which benefits an industry that struggles to attract applicants.  


Frankly, I think more women should look at greenkeeping.  Sure, it isn’t always a fun job.  Sometimes it’s hot, sometimes it’s frigid, sometimes the traffic is bad and machinery breaks down and you have clients breathing down your neck, interfering and putting you further behind.  But it is also a field where almost every day you get to see the sun, and move around, and use not only your hands, but your mind.  Your uniforms are supplied, there is no expectation to wear heels or make-up, and most greenkeepers can go on holidays without being obligated to check emails or answer phone calls.  The industry is growing and work is more likely to be full time than in other industries.  


Further, while we all know the pay isn’t terrific, it’s an industry where equal pay for equal work isn’t a pipe dream – it seems to be reality.  While there is little statistically valid information available, what data there is suggests that women don’t seem to suffer the irritatingly common fate of being paid less than their male colleagues for doing the same work with the same qualifications.


So if you’re an employer looking to attract more talent, or a woman looking to enter the field, all I can say is ‘go for it’.





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