Seven-year-old girl forces New Zealand authorities to change ‘sexist’ workmen signs

A letter from a seven-year-old girl in New Zealand to the transport authority about its “unfair” road signs has prompted the agency to change the wording of the nation’s signage from “Linemen” to “Line Crew”.

During a visit to her grandparents in Eastbourne, a suburb near Wellington, Zoe Carew was angered by the signs, which indicate that people are working on local power lines.

In a letter to Fergus Gammie, the chief executive of the New Zealand Transport Agency, the seven-year-old wrote: “Why does the sign say ‘Linemen’ when the people working on the lines may be men or women? I think this sign is wrong and unfair. Do you agree?”

The letter continued: “I don’t really want to be a line-worker when I grow up because there are so many more exciting things I would like to do, but some girls might want to learn to be linewomen. Can you please change the sign to say ‘Line-workers’ instead, or something else correct and fair like that.”

Mr Gammie responded, saying that he accepted the criticism and that the agency would change its signs. He said the wording would be changed to “Line crew” rather than “Line-workers” because this would not require adjusting the size of the signs.

“I commend you for your suggestion and for taking action where you think something unfair should be fixed. Well done,” he wrote.

“The Transport Agency chose ‘Line crew’ rather than ‘Line work’ because using the word ‘crew’ indicates that people are doing the work and drivers need to be very careful when passing them.”

Caitlin Carew, Zoe’s mother, posted the letters on Facebook, saying she was “so proud of my 7yo”. 

“High 5s all round!” she said. 

Mr Gammie said that replacing the signs "may take some time" and invited Zoe to have her photograph with a new sign once the change has been made.

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