For a nation to succeed, it is important to tap the talent and creativity of over half of its population – women. Among many industries where women are seen as active and contributing, construction is behind when it comes to women working in the trades. In today’s world, no profession is gender specific. Women are breaking the stereotypes and barriers and are making their name and earning respect in every industry.
We discuss taboo topics, women in construction, and the construction industry itself. The episode is a must-listen for everyone whether men or women, working in the construction industry. Marta has 15 years of experience in construction. It’s amazing how she not just survived in the man’s world but succeeded in earning respect in it!
Marta started working in a full finishing, tendering, home inspections, and then she did construction administration and worked her way up to become a site super. She is working with a builder now and works on 400-500 houses per year.
Marta shared how it is easy to work at the desk, but when going out in the field, she felt that the acceptance level for women is quite low. She realized from the body language of men working in the field as if they are asking “What in the world do you know about construction?”
The old school mentality that pictures sons in construction/field, and daughters in offices, is still there and Marta even shared how a homeowner was not comfortable communicating with her, and instead, when her (male) colleague approached the homeowner, he listened to the exact same thing she told him! The difference was he valued his opinion and not hers!
Men don’t feel comfortable
Another issue women are not encouraged to work in construction is because guys enjoy in the guy’s world. Men have a different approach when they communicate in front of women. Guys like to have fun around, tell dirty jokes, swear without any worries, but when there’s a woman, they hesitate and thus they are not comfortable working with women. Marta, on the other hand, tells how she has become friends with her coworkers, the guy talk doesn’t bother her, as she knows it is an industry with men all over so she suggests you adjust accordingly.
Marta tells how the people who work with her respect her, help her out with her truck, with the physical work and all. Though she is happy in the field and knows she has earned herself respect and recognition, as a woman, this process is slow! Which she believes should not be. Men and women are equal and when someone knocks on your door for work, the only criteria should be their talent and what they offer for a company.
Marta pointed out how the younger generation wants to skip the physical work and get to the top. They want to build things, they want to be contractors, but they don’t know that you can’t build perfectly if you don’t know the physical work. You must remember that construction is a field in which you can excel if you have more experience. You cannot begin to get the equity right from the start.
Dynamics are Changing
There are women in the construction industry who love their work. Marta gave examples of women who are perfect in their craft, some are doing framing, some are doing tiling, and some work as electricians. Even there are several couples working in construction, who are very professional. As a society, we need to change how we view this industry. Marta explains how wives don’t want women to work with their men in the field. They should appreciate women working in the field and accept the professional acquaintances of their husbands.
Women are Good Managers
Women are better supervisors and managers. They run things better and smoothly when they get respect from the guys. One of the reasons is that they give attention to details, and they are very organized.
It’s a Career, Not a Job!
“The Construction Life” has always thrived for the betterment of the industry and those who work in it. If you want to work in this industry, make sure to pursue it as your career, not as a temporary job. Make it your passion, let it run in your blood. This point is not just for females, but for anyone who wants to work in the construction industry. It is not rocket science or something you cannot do, but you must be a tough cookie. You must have a passion for this work, and you will have to work hard, and things will get easier with time followed by a series of successful career steps
There are several women out there, who might be interested in this industry, who want to build something and be proud of it. The government, Contractors, and Society as a whole should encourage women to get into the construction industry, we are missing out on construction gems in form of so many skilled and talented women.