Men and women have assumed different roles in the industry sector throughout time. Can the fact that the role of women was considered many times secondary erase the real contribution and impact of women in the history of industry?

48. Leather Workers in the Yantra river. Cleaning the bristles of the leather with specialised tools. Interactive Museum of Industry, Gabrovo, Bulgaria.


This image portrays women learning and performing a more technical task, that used to be reserved to men. If you pay close attention, you will see that all the supervisors are men. Do you think that today we would see more women assuming the role of technical supervisors within the industrial sector?

49. Technical designers in the first metalworking tool factory. Period of State Socialism, 1944-1989. Interactive Museum of Industry, Gabrovo, Bulgaria.

Discriminating against someone is denying that person the same rights and opportunities. This is, naturally, contrary to fundamental rights principles – which proclaim that all human beings are equal in dignity – and, therefore, unequal treatment is prohibited by international law.

There are different discrimination grounds that can be enlisted: race, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, sex, gender identity, gender expression among others.

In the context of labour relations and the industry sector, the dichotomy women/ men occupies a central stage. Within that angle, discrimination means a differential treatment of women and men, namely in the areas of employment, education, and access to opportunities, on the sole basis of their sex. Discrimination may be direct or indirect, depending on the situations.

Direct discrimination occurs when specific laws, rules or practices clearly entail an unequal treatment (position) between women and men (e.g. a call for a job position that only addresses men or women).

Indirect discrimination is different and consists of laws and practices that would appear gender neutral but in reality, result in disadvantages primarily suffered by women/men (e.g. it is required a certain height for a specific position, not justified by any requirement). In terms of legal accountability for indirect discrimination, it is not necessary that there was the intention to discriminate.

Tackling discrimination is particularly important in the industry sector, particularly considering the re-shaping of the industry sector brough by the 4th Industrial Revolution (and those that follow) with potential to change some of the traditional understandings of the division of labour, as the world faces disruptive change.

Tackling the gender gap which is still very prevalent in many of the industry sectors is impossible if patterns of (direct and indirect) discrimination persist, and many of the EU policies in the areas of education and labour market have been focusing on tackling it.