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Orange Alert

lwacker's picture

Gender Pay In-equality: A Call to Action In Orange Art

Attached are two documents:

Word.doc With pay gap data & reflective writing.

Artistic reintrepretation of possible road signage: photos of 14 different painted caution signs included.


Lee Wacker

Web-Event 3

Gender Pay In-equality: A Call to Action In Orange Art



[Figure 1]                                                        [Figure 2]


            The topic for my third web-event came to me while riding the blue-bus on the way back to Bryn Mawr after my painting class at Haverford. There was some minor road construction as we excited the gate the blue bus route always follows. My eye immediately caught the bright orange MEN WORKING sign [Figure 1] that stuck out into the road to grab drivers’ attention. I’m guessing (hoping) that before this semester I would have noticed the use of such blatantly gendered language on public street signage. However, I am confident that the amount of diffraction that has occurred through my two Flexner courses and Gen-Sex core course has certainly honed my skills to be on high-alert for these “orange” flags or verbal injustice.


            That being said, I was pissed. What does it matter if I’m recklessly driving down a side street at 60 where the speed limit is 40 and MEN are working. Am I any more likely to miraculously change my driving if the sign prompting me to be more careful (if that is the intended aim of this sign in the first place) is noting that MEN are the potential victims at risk? After seeing the “Men Working” sign I began to think about the industries that would use such signs and why they would choose the language of “MEN” instead of people or workers. This lead me to some entangled thoughts about the nature of pay inequality in fields of work and industries that are primarily barred to women i.e. construction, industry based trades. I thought about the foil of figure 2, a national sign campaign that portrays comics-sans style printing as if child had scrawled desperately on a sign pleading for speeders on the highway to take care because his/her mother worked there, against figure 1. However the “place/space of working” or the “here” in figure 2 is displaced out of the physical roadside of the highway or off of the pavement of the highway where roadwork would be done because women aren’t represented or are made invisible in the field of construction through the gendered pay gap.


            Through my fourteen orange caution signs I explore ways in which to deviate from the original MEN WORKING sign and constructively exemplify the space in which women, men, people and bodies are allowed to assemble and work.


The Gender Wage Gap: 2010 (Updated April 2011)

            by Ariane Hegewisch, Claudia Williams, Amber Henderson (April 2011)

Institute for Women’s Policy Research

Washington, DC


            During 2010 the weekly gender wage gap narrowed slightly.

            Median weekly earnings of female full-time workers were $669, compared with      male median weekly earnings of $824. Based on these data, the ratio of women’s to men’s median weekly earnings was 81.2, slightly higher than in 2009 (80.3)       and above the historical high of 81.0 in 2005. During recessions the gender wage             gap typically narrows because bonus and overtime payments, which on average       account for a larger share of male than female earnings, are cut back.


The Simple Truth About the Gender Pay Gap

American Association of University Women [AAUW]

Washington, DC



  • Equal Pay Act was signed into law by President John F. Kennedy in 1963
  • January 2009, President Barack Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law
  • November 2010, the Senate failed to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would have given women additional and much-needed equal pay protections



  • 2010, women working full time in the United States still earned just 77 % on average, of what men earn, a gap of 23 percent?
  • 44% of men worked in traditionally male occupations, such as computer programming, aerospace engineering, and firefighting, compared with only 5.5 % of women in those jobs.
  • Overall, women are more likely to work in professional, office and administrative support, sales, and service occupations, and men are more likely to work in construction, maintenance and repair, and production and transportation occupations.


The pay gap affects women from all backgrounds, at all ages, and of all levels of educational achievement, although earnings and the gap vary depending on a woman’s individual situation.

         In nearly every line of work, women face a pay gap.




caution signs.png948.52 KB


Anne Dalke's picture

technical difficulties?

I'm quite engaged both by your initial pairing (of the no-nonsense "MEN WORKING" sign and the childish scrawl begging us to "slow down" because "mommy works here")...and by the sequence of drawings you did to play w/ alternative possibilities (my fav? "Caution People" --because it swings both ways: as a mode of address--"people, take care" and as a description: "take caution; there are people working here").

but I think we have a few technical issues here? I don't see/can't access the second doc you reference above, and the source URL doesn't work either.....I don't want to miss the rest of this, including your own reflections on the "right relationship" between signage, those who work under "precarious" conditions, and those of us who must take care as a important do you think is gender in this representational exchange? I'm very curious to hear....