Women in construction and skilled trades take the lead

Drive-thru:

  • A shortage of trade workers has resulted in a labor shortage at a time when demand for construction is booming. One solution is to attract more women to the trades.
  • Women in construction have already succeeded in a variety of projects and are running their own companies or helping their employers grow.
  • Women in the trades in leadership roles in construction feel strongly that the trades are an excellent career choice for girls and young women.

Professional women in construction and the skilled trades are generally eager to encourage other women to come into the fold.

“Don’t ever let your gender hold you back,” says Alexandra Nicholson, Director of Marketing and Operations at Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning in Framingham, MA. “Whether in the business support side or as a technician, you can excel at anything you put your mind to.”

According to an article on Contractor Magazine, female plumbers and HVAC technicians are still a small percentage of the plumbing, pipe-fitting, and HVAC industry, but more are making their way into management positions or operating contracting firms.

The following women are great examples of those who have found success and satisfaction in the industry.

Jo An Castro, Master Electrician

Jo An Castro has been an electrician for over 25 years. She got into the trade when the restaurant where she was working as a waitress closed. A man asked her if she wanted to try her hand at working as an electrician. Castro dove in and loved it.

She says she appreciates the variety of the work as well as the personal aspect. She feels that, as a woman, clients feel safer and more comfortable asking her into their homes.

Castro was one of only six female master electricians in Texas when she earned her master seven or eight years ago. Back in her journeyman days, she had difficulty getting work in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Castro decided if that was the way it was going to be, she would just open her own business. She hasn’t looked back.

Earlier this year, Castro decided to merge her electrical contracting business with her husband’s roofing company. She believes there is plenty of work out there for anyone who can do it well, regardless of their gender.

Cindy Stauss, Construction Project Manager

Cindy Stauss with Deacon Construction in California says she has been seeing more women enter the trades over the past five years, but mentions that more of them are going into architecture or project management. She hopes more will enter construction and believes that colleges and trade schools should increase their outreach to girls and young women considering a career.

Pink hardhats are definitely a no-go, according to Stauss. Click To Tweet

Her advice to women in the trades is to remember that they must prove themselves on the job site. They shouldn’t expect special considerations—like their own bathroom. Pink hardhats are definitely a no-go, according to Stauss. Stauss encourages females to be strong and independent and show everyone how organized and skilled they are.

April Wetzler, Project Manager

April Wetzler has been a designer with Westchester Homes in Heath, TX for 15 years. She said she doesn’t see many women on the job site. More often she deals with them when working with showrooms and ordering materials. However, she would love to see more women in the construction industry.

Wetzler feels women have the advantage of excellent communication and problem-solving skills. She also says that while a woman in a trade might not be taken seriously at first, with time and good craftsmanship, women can gain the trust and respect of the workers around them.

Alicia Lee, Business Development

Alicia Lee has helped Globus Management grow its home renovation business to include both single and multi-family residences. Her company has also helped those impacted by Hurricane Harvey in Houston.

Wetzler says the trades are an excellent career path for women, and points out that they’re also well-paying lines of work. She feels outreach programs are needed for young women to let them know they are fully capable and can be just as successful as men.

These four women have found success in their respective areas, and they hope to see more women start similar careers. They see no obstacles to women entering the construction field. After all, they all know their male co-workers just want the work to get done right, same as they do.

As Kelly Webber, of T. Webber Plumbing and Heating puts it, “As girls, we aren’t always steered towards the trades. But as women, with training and education, we can do any job.”

For more about women in the trades, read our articles Are Women the Future of Skilled Trades? and Taking a Cue from Massachusetts: Women’s Trade Campaigns.

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