Straw firm defends itself over claims of sexism

The banner at the park site
The banner at the park site
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It’s not the final straw . . .

REMEMBER THIS?: Sexism row over revamp at the Top Lock pub in Wheelton

A company that specialises in making buildings from straw bales has defended itself against claims of sexism.

Straw Works is behind a new £400,000 eco-friendly visitors’ centre at Cuerden Valley Park between Chorley and Leyland.

A promotional banner describes the new build as being “where students of all ages and backgrounds, including WOMEN, are learning on real building sites, how to build with natural materials, to a professional standard.”

But Barbara Jones, one of the company’s leaders, said: “We do it on purpose because research shows if you don’t highlight the fact courses are open to women when you are teaching skills which are non-traditional to women, women just assume these are for men. We have a very positive approach to teaching people of all genders.”

Barbara, a qualified carpenter and joiner who has worked in construction since 1980, added: “In construction, less than one per cent who work on the tools are women. In our company we probably have seventy per cent. And on training courses, sixty three to seventy per cent of students are women. I can understand some women occasionally may feel offended by what we’re doing, because they feel they already know they can do these courses, but the vast majority don’t.”

Volunteers of both sexes worked on the project, including Helen Lindsay, 42, of Hoghton, who said; “I think it’s done in all innocence. They’re just trying to get more women to join in and show they’re just as capable as men.”