Berkeley, Calif. (AP) — The Berkeley City Council voted unanimously this week to revise the city’s municipal code with gender-neutral language, but gender activists say that’s not enough.
“Yes, the word ‘manhole’ is now illegal, but 95% of municipal sewer workers are still men,” said Council member Rigel Robinson. “If we don’t get more women into the sewers, how can we honestly say we’re gender neutral?”
Robinson, who graduated from UC Berkeley last year and at 23 is the youngest member of the Council, says he has a plan.
“Women won’t work in the sewers because the temperature is too cold and the workplace is absolutely filthy,” Robinson said. “My plan would add adjustable thermostats and personal hygiene facilities in key underground areas.”
The plan would also entice women workers into the trade by building kitchens and art galleries in the sewer systems.
Robinson insists that both the municipal code and actual workplaces must reflect that fact that “men can’t be the only gender to work in the sewer maintenance business.”
“The District Court has already declared this abhorrent gender discrepancy unconstitutional,” said Robinson. “All my plan does is put the court’s decision into action. We’ve forgotten what government service is all about, but Berkeley will bring its beacon of light to the dark places.”