Union report finds ill-fitting clothing can harm research and safety

Over two-thirds of women working in science and engineering in the UK wear personal protective equipment (PPE) designed for men, according to a recent survey. The report also found wearing such clothing can adversely affect research and safety.

Published by the science and engineering union Prospect, the survey canvassed opinions from 3086 women working in the emergency services, transport, construction, R&D and energy sectors.  On average, only 29% of women in these industries wear PPE designed for them, be it overalls, lab coats, gloves, trousers or footwear. This figure falls to less than 10% for those employed in the energy sector.

Prospect also investigated how ill-fitting safety gear can affect research output. Over half (57%) of those surveyed said their safety clothing ‘sometimes or significantly hampers their work’. Wearing such equipment can also lead to derogatory comments and workplace discrimination, according to the survey.

Sue Ferns, Prospect’s deputy general-secretary, said in a statement: ‘The survey results reflect the general challenges that women face when working in male-dominated industries.’