women in trash


women.jpg  While reading through the latest newsletter from DSNY, New York City’s trash authority, I came across a tiny item in the congratulations section that mentioned the recent promotion of two women to the rank of deputy chief.  I guess the city of New York felt the story was bigger than garbage, because the mayor’s office issued a press release, not the department of sanitation.

I don’t have much commentary to add to this story.  It’s a mid-level administrative rank and not surprising that women have not yet surpassed deputy chief given the staunch old-boys-club nature of both sanitation and New York City. 

It is interesting, though, that garbage collection in our country is such a male-dominated industry given the widely-held cultural belief that wives should pick up after their husbands and sons and not the other way around.

A cursory Google for international comparisons reveals that:

  • In India, garbage-free village initiatives offer job opportunities for women;
  • Women in Jordan used a Global Fund grant to go door to door collecting trash, then turned their local garbage dump into a community greenhouse;
  • Egyptian women sort trash and sell what they can to fund women’s health programs;
  • And local teams of women environmentalists in Mozambique spend their mornings getting rid of cesspools of trash and their afternoons educating their neighbors on how to avoid malaria and cholera by coming up with new ways to dispose of household waste.

It would appear that women the world over are taking the tidyupper sterotype and, if not rejecting it entirely, at least turning it on its head.

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