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Meet the South Korean repairwomen shattering the concrete ceiling

This all-woman repair service was created for women who feel nervous about having men they don't know in their home.

Meet the South Korean repairwomen shattering the concrete ceiling
Image Source: DragonImages / Getty Images

Like STEM, the field of repair work is largely dominated by men. This could be due to the misconception that work to do with tools or heavy lifting require strength which women do not have, but regardless of the reason, there exists a so-called "concrete" ceiling in the industry. If you have ever called a plumber or carpenter to fix something in your home, more likely than not, a man was assigned to the job. An all-woman repair service in South Korea is fixing this problem, BBC News reports. Not only does this empower women, but it also helps those uncomfortable with letting an unknown man into their homes feel more at ease.


Ahn Hyung-seon is the leader behind the initiative. She was inspired by her own journey. As a young girl, she loved tools and playing around with them, but was always discouraged as those were "not for girls." In an interview with the BBC, she said, "As a child, I loved playing with tools and tidying up toolboxes. But, people would tell me that stuff is not for girls. When I saw repairmen at work, I felt I could do it too. I started thinking, 'Why are there no women in this field?'" Her question led her to create the all-woman repair service.


Even today, as a grown woman, she noticed that only men would come to her home if she called a repair service provider when something broke in her home. "I've lived alone for almost 10 years," she explained. "Naturally, things break over time and they need to get fixed but it was always a man who came to repair things." This presented to her a safety risk that perhaps all women resonate with. It is not always easy to invite a stranger into your home and trust them. Hyung-seon shared, "Considering what is going on in Korea, it felt uncomfortable. Breaking and entering was rising. The headlines were creating fear." In the last 10 years alone, cases of sexual assault in South Korea have doubled and almost 90 percent of victims of violent crime in the country are women.


Therefore, Hyung-seon's all-woman repair service is a godsend for the South East Asian nation's women. Her company completed repairs in over 500 homes last year, and they are only set to grow further. She and her team are fighting the "common view" that repair work is not a woman's place. "It's tough work for both men and women," she said. "You need stamina and [you need to be] ready to do any heavy lifting. It's not a walk in the park." Despite the challenges, she affirmed that women can indeed enter and thrive in the field of repair work. "Any woman can do this if they accept the challenge," she affirmed. "The sky's the limit. Anyone can fix up their homes if they just try. I hope more women can join us so that being a handywoman becomes normal." Hyung-seon hopes to soon construct an entire building together with other women technicians.


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