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Indiana sisters learn the power of their young voices

“'Men working' signs are a problem,” 11-year old Blair Babione told the Carmel City Council Monday, her sister Brienne alongside.

CARMEL, Ind — “'Men working' signs are a problem,” Blair Babione told the Carmel City Council Monday night. 

Blair, 11, and her 9-year old sister, Brienne, came to the meeting after an invitation from council president Sue Finkam. 

The girls had recently sent letters to Finkam about “men working” signs they had noticed recently in their neighborhood. 

‘Why is this sign here? Why does it say, ‘men working’ when we’ve seen plenty of women doing construction?’” they asked. 

Leslie, the girls’ mom, said her daughters wanted to know. When she couldn’t give them an answer, they decided to research it. 

“We got on the computer and found how it was not supposed to be here anymore, and we went from there,” Blair said. 

“We looked and found this has been against federal law since 1988,” Leslie said. “I was a kid when this law came about and now, here I am, a mom of kids and these signs are still here.”

Blair and Brienne decided to do something about it, sending letters to their local lawmakers. 

“Women can do anything, and it’s not right to have it just say ‘men,’” Brienne said. 

“When little girls see them, they might think, ‘oh, I can’t be a construction worker, but I want to,’ and seeing a little girl feel like that makes me sad,” Blair told the council. 

“You may be thinking ‘well, I don’t really care,’” Brienne said. “But a little girl might want to do construction, and she will see the sign and think, ‘I can’t do construction because the sign says ‘men.’’” 

“We felt like if we didn’t change it, nothing would happen,” Blair said.

Credit: WTHR
Carmel sisters are applauded at Monday's council meeting after they presented concerns about the city's continued use of outdated 'men working' signs.

“Thanks for bringing to our attention these signs that are still out there. We’ll work with our subcontractors to make sure we do the best we can to not have them here,” Finkam told the girls. 

Finkam then invited to the front of chambers some of the women who work for the city of Carmel, including police officers, firefighters and road crews, so not only did the girls bring awareness to lawmakers about the signs, they got to meet those city employees. 

“They also happen to be females working in jobs that are oftentimes mostly male,” Finkam said. 

“We got to come here and see all these girls doing different jobs and being leaders,” Blair said. 

“I learned to stand up for what is right and that women can do anything and that the sign should include all people,” Brienne added. 

The sisters walked away knowing they can grow up to be anything they want, and that even at 9 and 11 years old, their voices are already powerful.