Blair Babione and Brienne Babione wrote letters to the Carmel City Council to point out the sign was not only sexist but also banned as per Federal Highway Administration's Manual.
Sexism is so deeply embedded in our daily lives that most of us, especially men, wouldn't be able to recognize it if stared us in the face. In Indiana, it took two young girls to spot the problem when they came across a road sign that read "Men working." Blair Babione, 11, and Brienne Babione, 9, who are sisters, wanted to find out if it was okay to put a sign that said men working, which is inherently sexist suggesting that it's men who always do the work, especially physical labor such as construction. They then wrote letters to Carmel City Council President Sue Finkam, which has eventually led to a new resolution being passed to mandate that workers use appropriate signage, reported Good Morning America.
Their mother was stunned by their awareness and will to implement change at such a young age. "It blew me away," said mom Leslie Babione of Carmel. "I'm very proud of them for asking questions and most proud that after asking questions they said, 'Well, what can we do about it?'" The young girls had spotted the sign in January and then proceeded to research the history of the sign. They found out that any form of gender-specific signage is against regulation as per the Federal Highway Administration's Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). Following this, they alerted the Carmel City Council about its use in the community. The sisters reminded the council in the letter that women also work in construction.
Finkam appreciated the two girls for raising the issue."Leslie [Babione]'s work and the girls' cute letters brought that to our attention," said Finkam. She added that it was probably set up by a contractor who was hired to work in Carmel. After receiving the letter, Finkam introduced a resolution mandating the use of gender-neutral construction signs. "Having been alerted to gender bias in this community by the thoughtful letters of two of the City’s youngest residents, Blair Babione and Brienne Babione, the Common Council chooses to take official action to promote equality and inclusivity," read the resolution which was passed unanimously. "'Men Working' or 'Men At Work' signage communicates the false and unacceptable message that women cannot or should not work in the construction trades or other related fields."
Blair Babione, 11, and Brienne Babione, 9, spotted a “men working” sign at a construction site and penned a letter to town leaders asking why the sign was posted when plenty of women also work in construction. https://t.co/aNscHshmsf— Q13 FOX Seattle (@Q13FOX) March 9, 2021
While the resolution was passed, it is already illegal to use gender-biased construction signage within the city limits. As of 1988, the signs were mean to be completely phased out at a federal level, she said. The resolution was also passed to appreciate and encourage young voices like that of Blair and Brienne to be active in civic matters. "The main reason of doing this is to highlight the voices of two young girls," said Finkam. "I wanted to underscore the value of that and they're one day going to inherit the leadership of this community. The earlier they can get involved, the better."
"Why is this sign here? Why does it say, ‘Men working’ when we’ve seen plenty of women doing construction?’,” wrote Blair and Brienne Babione, in a letter to Carmel City Council President. https://t.co/crwpV54Gme— The New 93Q (@TheNew93Q) March 13, 2021
On March 1, Blair and Brienne were invited to a City Hall council meeting to mark the first day of Women's History Month. They read out their letters in front of an audience that included a street department foreman, firefighters, police officers, and K9-officers, who are all women. They were also gifted mementos — the "Men Working" signs that were dug up from storage. Apart from that, they were also given items from women who work in male-dominated fields. "I'm proud of their empathy for others and imagining how other women might feel seeing the 'Men Working' sign being used," said Babione of her children. "They hope everyone will continue using appropriate signage and following the laws."