The Invasion and Evolution of the White Van Man
Lyndon Wood, CEO of ConstructaQuote, explores the White Van Man stereotype and the trade sector's gender divide.
The Department of Transport published the revelation that the number of van’s populating the British road community has risen by 30,000 within the past decade which is far greater than the increase of its smaller cousin: the car. The increase in volume has contributed to a broader spectrum in its driving personalities. The White Van Man has sat on his partially upholstered throne for long enough with the modern van driver rejecting his selfish attitude; fat saturated diet; bad language and he is one-third of the time a she; and respectively take pride in the condition of their vehicle. The fact is our resident white van man is a valuable asset to the British economy; the majority are involved in a constituent of the construction industry which supports the economy by 35 billion each year.
The common misconception of the rogue stereotype is challenged further with recent statistics proudly asserting that 76% of van drivers have never verbally challenged another road user…If only the same could be said for the Mr Land Rover; the majority also consider themselves to be better drivers than those who inhabit any other vehicle. With a steady budding of female van drivers who are statistically better drivers and increased professionalism within the sector as a whole, can we finally bid farewell to the White Van Man? Modernity does not offer the same justification towards a one dimensional hyper villain that was a product stemming from semi ignorant media tyrants. The economic grip of the construction worker and his van are unparalleled within any other sector; for every £1 spent within the industry 90p remains within the confines of the UK. The whiff of opportunity seems like a pungently necessary prospect but one that is being unwittingly missed. The steady unemployment rate which is currently sitting at 7.2% is continuously stigmatised and with little over 1% of women currently occupying the construction industry there is an unequivocal need in both areas: the unemployed need jobs and the construction industry is crying for female companionship.
As the White Van Man embarks on a journey towards a cleaner image, women remain to be undermined and underrepresented within the construction industry and are often seen as inadequate within the trade. The origin of this mythical handicap that is somewhat ambiguous; women were involved in manual trades stretching as far back as the medieval age; they didn’t shy away from the pits in the 19th century and intersected many traditionally male roles throughout WW2. A handful of neuroscientists within the latter half of the century have argued that both the male and female brains are more similar than they are different; the divide is a direct result of social placebo. Women are groomed to accept their gender roles from infancy where there is a clear stigmatic dichotomy between dressing up a baby Cabbage Patch doll and playing with Tonka the Mighty Dump Truck.
An industry that is unanimously testosterone enthused is in itself is a crutch; one third of women dislike having tradesmen in their homes and perhaps the option of a female alternative would be the difference between capturing business and losing it. The fruitfulness of female recruitment to the construction industry is a long overdue endeavour and one that is tiresomely overlooked and the instigation for change is certainly not on the political agenda. The fact is there is a serious lack of opportunity for women to enter the trade and a serious lack of understanding towards the diversity that these women could offer the industry in conjunction with the utter ignorance towards the potential boost to the British economy. The mutual beneficial components are circularly completed: The government would experience a boost in the economy; the unemployment rate would reduce; SME’s within the sector who have recruited women would attract a more diverse clientele.
In true Darwinian fashion, the White Van “Man” has evolved into a valued asset to modern culture; just a slight shove in a more feminine direction and perhaps the stereotype will be less Neanderthal and more professional being.