TLDR; In conjunction with #WomenHistoryMonth and #IWD, female hook lift driver Ernie shares with us what it means to take control of your destiny and chart your life on your own terms.
While the attention is on International Women’s Day, not many of us are aware of Women’s History Month, which runs for the whole month of March.
Women’s History Month is an annual declared month that highlights the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society.
While we celebrate the big things, this month is also about celebrating the everyday woman, and how they strive to make an impact, taking control of their destiny and charting their own history.
This is the case for one extraordinary lady, Ernie Djuliana, or Ernie for short. Ernie started out as a hook lift truck driver in what is perceived to be a male-dominated industry, and she was actually the first ever female hook lift driver.
Ernie is also a member of the Building Construction And Timber Industries Employees’ (BATU) Union.
Proving the naysayers wrong & breaking the bias
During her job interview, Ernie shared that the interviewers were skeptical – even going as far as to question her ability to drive a huge truck as a woman. She also reminisced about a time in her career where a male colleague said that he’ll “give it 3 months” and would like to see “how far she can go”. He also mentioned that he “doubts she can last”.
She went on to prove him wrong; she has been in the industry since 2013 and she has even gone on to become an Operations Executive!
A single mother, who wanted to provide her children with a better life.
There were many challenges on her journey. As a single mother, she often struggled between parenting and making ends meet, and was driven by the motivation to give her 3 children a better life. She soon realised that the best way to do this was to seek opportunities that would allow her to upskill, which would in turn allow her to earn a better salary.
Paving the way for other female hook lift drivers
Ernie shared that the company trusts her with more responsibilities now, despite their skepticism about her skills in the beginning. Ernie also shared that her company has started employing more female hook lift drivers.
On being a role model to those who matter most… her children.
Her children proudly shared with their teachers at school about Ernie’s profession – “My mom’s the first woman to drive big trucks” and that got us in tears (cue go little rockstar)
Ernie also shared that her kids wrote her a card for Mothers Day with the words “Strongest woman on Earth”, and thanked her for raising the three of them singlehandedly throughout all the hardships.
If you focus more on what people are going to say, especially the negatives, you won’t go anywhere. If you think what you’re doing is right, you should just go with your heart. Just do it.
You can watch the full video here.
Staying true to the spirit of empowering women in March, the NTUC’s Women and Family (WAF) Unit signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with SMEs to signify a partnership to stamp out gender bias and harassment in the workplace. This will give 22 SMEs access to the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) consultants and resources when they set up policies such as proper grievance handling procedures and disciplinary actions.
It also released a survey by the NTUC and PAP women’s wing, which found that 23 per cent, or nearly one-quarter, of respondents believe there is gender discrimination in the workplace. More women than men also said they felt treated unfairly but feared reporting it to their management.
U WAF director Yeo Wan Ling said:
Not everybody is able to articulate what they feel. U WAF is training not only employers on what to do when someone reports (discrimination ) and general female grievances, we are also training employees to substantiate their feelings with an articulation of why they have a grievance.
Talk about a milestone in history!
On top of that, NTUC has also pledged to look more closely at women workers this year, particularly to empower women to juggle their family responsibilities with flexible work arrangements.