her life Diane has worked as a receptionist, hotel desk clerk,
waitress, bartender, hotel maid, short-order cook, temporary
worker, forklift operator, courier, salesperson, truck driver,
drywaller, carpenter's helper, alarm systems installer, and
she ran her own business selling and installing telephone
systems. She has also done volunteer work with provincial
and national women's organizations and in women's shelters.
At age 52, Diane now works as a computer programmer in Winnipeg
where she just bought her own house.
got into my 40s I looked back on my life and noticed that
the only time that I had a roof over my head, food in my mouth,
and clothes on my back, I had a man to provide those things.
I didn't have a man in my life at that time. I didn't want
another one so I had to think for myself. I had to find out
what I could do so I would have the things I wanted. I started
to get the idea that the only person who's going to take
care of me is me.
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In between the
men there was always the times when I'd have to wear second-hand
clothes and I'd have to live in crappy places or I'd have
to live with things that I didn't like just to survive.
I'd have to change jobs and stuff like that. In the first
twenty years of work, I had an attitude of, "Oh yeah well,
I don't like this job, I'll just go on to the next one,"
because I didn't need to worry about where the money was
coming from. I usually had a boyfriend and then I was married
and he took care of everything so I could do whatever I
darn well pleased. My last man was the last in a long
line of meal tickets.
I had tried to
get jobs where I'd be getting more money and the only jobs
that I could get was working in a warehouse. Then you would
get like $7/hour instead of $5/hour as a waitress. But I
was still in the female jobs/male jobs, you know there was
2 categories. As I started working in warehouses and working
beside men in warehouses I started looking at what they
were doing and what I was doing and thinking well "Just
a second here." I started recognizing something about myself
and the people I worked with - they were all men and
I was doing their job. I also started finding out they
were actually getting 8,9, and 10 dollars and hour and I
was still only getting 7. When I started crossing the line
into men's job's, that's when I started discovering just
how much women were discriminated against, just how hard
I was a drywaller
for about 7 years and during that time I worked on a lot
of major projects. On major projects they hire anybody,
I mean anybody. I wouldn't get hired on the smaller ones.
Once I was working with 500 men. I came on site and the
general contractor says to me, "I'm sorry we sent the
pink biffy [toilet] back." For me to go use the bathroom
facilities it was just like any of the guys but this guy
made a point of coming over to me and apologizing because
he'd had a secretary on site and had ordered a pink toilet
for her, the same thing as the men, but pink. When she left
the site he had sent it away and he was very sorry about
The mental aspect
of it, they don't take into account. I don't know if that's
discrimination or just a pain in the ass. The constant surprise.
Everybody saying, "Oh my God you're a drywaller!" I know
it was not much but it is kind of discrimination. When I
was working on the women's prison, groups of people would
come through touring. I'd be up on my rolling platform tying
wires, hanging ceiling tile, and I'd hear this rustle, rustle.
I'd look down at all these little hard hats and the tour
guide would say: "And this is our resident woman."
I'd do this little dance. People don't realize that you're
At lunch, nobody
would sit with me or they'd make fun of me or they'd steal
my tools. I think they did that to each other anyway but
they gang up on you and they can be really nasty. I was
discriminated at school. I proved the discrimination to
the heads of the school. And what they did to fix it was
they segregated me. They put me in a room by myself and
taught me what I needed to know by myself and didn't do
anything to those boys at all.
I do know that
the more education I got, the better job I got, the more
confidence I had. That directly related to the education.
The more confidence I had, the less I noticed the discrimination,
the less I paid attention to it, the less I even worried
about it. So that I wasn't afraid. I could go and just apply
for any job I darn well pleased, as long as I had the education.
That the government
provided some of the education was the only way I did it.
The only way. I have heard of women who have gotten student
loans, have children and lose their house because they end
up having to go on welfare. Or they manage to still get
the job they want but end up paying forever. Fortunately
I didn't have to do that.
I think that
the only way I made it up to 2000 financially, is that I
was supported by the Canadian government or men - not necessarily
in that order. What kind of statement does that say about
30 years of a Woman's life?