Men (and women!) at work

Little linguistic changes mean so much.

Published July 11, 2008 3:15PM (EDT)

Until now, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, signs alerting Atlanta citizens to construction proclaimed: "Men working" or "Men at work ahead." Someone got fed up enough to spray-paint the sign so that it read "Women working." It might have been Cynthia Good, the editor of the women's business magazine PINK; the cops apparently thought so. When they came to her to ask if she had done it, however, she began a campaign to get the signs changed. The new signs now read, "Workers ahead."

This kind of change is so small (it's going to cost the city of Atlanta a total of $166) but so important. If, in spite of women's participation in the workforce, work is described in terms that characterize it as only a male function, it is impossible that men and women's professional lives will ever be really equal. Brava, Cynthia Good, for seeing that small linguistic shifts make a world of difference in the workforce, enabling women to make real strides toward equality.

By Nathalie Gorman

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