On October 24, 1901, Anna Edson Taylor was the first person to survive going over Niagara Falls in a barrel. Through the centuries, bold women have continued to meet challenges head-on and shatter stereotypes. But instead of plunging into churning waters, some women have chosen to dive into the construction industry, a field traditionally dominated by men. In 2014, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics reported that women make up only 8.9 percent of people working in this business.
For this first in a series of posts focusing on women working at Williams Scotsman, we reached out to three of our tenacious team members to ask them one question:
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOUR DAUGHTER IF SHE TOLD YOU SHE WANTED TO GO INTO THE CONSTRUCTION BUSINESS?
Speak up, do your homework and know more than anyone else in the room.
Lisa Roosa, an account executive based at our Connecticut branch, responded, “This is a difficult but very rewarding field for women. There are many more men than women in this business so it’s a great opportunity to stand out. You have to work hard to showcase your valuable ideas and knowledge. You can’t be shy. Speak up, do your homework and know more than anyone else in the room. Become an expert in your field by getting your hands dirty. Work both in the field and in the office. Learn all there is to know, and stay on top of procedures. Women still have to prove themselves every day in this industry; however, once you gain the respect of your customers and peers, there is nothing more rewarding.”
Jacqueline Sykes is one of our commercial directors. She answered, “Learn, learn, learn. Learn everything you can and become an expert in your field. You must be able to talk the talk and walk the walk! Learn, ask questions, pay attention, take classes, join professional organizations and get involved in them. Then, be confident in your own abilities and knowledge. A confident, competent woman can not only succeed, she can excel in the construction industry.”
Gabriele Holden, an area manager for our Southern California area, answered: “I would tell my daughter to think twice and carefully about pursuing a career in the construction industry. I would also tell her to be prepared for long hours and a lot of hard work. She will get to meet a lot of interesting hardworking folks, shake a lot of calloused hands and see a lot of projects kick off from their infancy to the finished product. She will get to witness firsthand “how America is being built” and see some very exciting and cool projects, which can be quite fun! She will also have to earn the respect of her counterparts in a male-dominated industry. I would assure her that ultimately hard work, knowledge and a solid work ethic will earn her the respect she deserves. I would want to be sure that she is aware that it is not a glamorous job suited for business suits and high heels. I would want to be sure she also knows that her shoes will never stay clean, no matter how hard she tries, because job sites are always dirty!”
Construction is one industry that demands excellence and rewards hard work. The field can be quite rewarding for women, but it is not without its challenges. Williams Scotsman is proud of the women who are so integral to our success. Here are some other organizations that aim to support women in construction:
National Association of Professional Women in Construction
National Association of Women in Construction
Women Construction Owners & Executives USA