The first full week of March is an important one for our industry. It is the week that we celebrate Women in Construction. At Baker Roofing Company we are proud to embrace diversity and the benefits that it brings to our trade. This year we partnered with Precision Walls and Newcomb and Company to bring more voices to Women in Construction Week. Employees of varying ages, positions, and personalities from each company share their views on being a woman in the construction industry.
Haley, Jessi, Christie, & Siri
Baker Roofing Company
Christie McMichael: I have seen opportunities for Baker Roofing open up. I believe women in the construction industry offers a different perspective to construction situations and dialogue. Men and women interrelate differently amongst each other. Sometimes in order to close a deal it is better to have two men discuss the situation but at other times it can be more productive to have a woman discuss the situation with the man to close the deal or offer a solution. This can be the said of men to women and women to women too. I believe diversity adds value to our clients and success for Baker Roofing.
Siri Bharathi: There were hardly 3-4 girls in civil engineering class, 15 years ago. Now I see more women across the industry in a variety of technical/non-technical/management roles or out in the field. Women are equally, if not more capable of working in, handling or delivering construction projects in an industry that has always been male dominated.
Haley Jones: My primary job at Baker is providing “World Class Service” to all our clients. Several of our clients happen to be women property managers. In recent years and with growing relationship, I have found my conversation to be more and more candid with my clients and one that has always stuck out to me was one PM saying to me, “I love working with the men at Baker, but it is so encouraging to hear from you and hear how knowledgeable you are about roofs. It’s so easy to talk to another woman that gets I may not understand everything about a roof and can easily break it down on my level, so that I understand.” Those comments make it all worth it!
Jessi Day: I stepped into the Roofing world in 2004, mostly by accident. I took an inside sales job thinking I would look for something else in the meantime. Little did I know I would fall into this business and love it. I have worked my way up in various positions during my 16 year roofing career. I started working at Baker Roofing in 2012 as the Office Manager of the Nashville TN Branch. It didn’t take me long to figure out Baker is “Home” for me and I wanted to learn and grow as much as I can here. In 2016, I took a leap of faith and jumped into the sales role. I was scared, mostly of failing. This has taught me anything worth doing may be scary and difficult, but worth the risk. I am so blessed to have an amazing support team here at Baker who have stood behind me and helped guide me.
Christie McMichael: Women are only an obstacle in the male dominated construction industry if we allow ourselves to be the obstacle. If we see ourselves as value to our customers, we will enhance opportunities for our employer and grow as individuals which will benefit the construction industry.
Siri Bharathi: It has made me tough, resilient and unique for picking a career in a male dominated industry.
Haley Jones: Being a woman in this industry has molded me in more ways than one. First being it has helped my confidence more than I could have ever imagined. On multiple occasions, I have been not only the only women in the room, but the youngest in the room. I have taken this as an opportunity to learn and to advance in the industry; working with so many talented and seasoned men in this industry has given me the opportunity to gain a wealth of knowledge, all I had to do was speak up and ask when there was something I didn’t know and wanted further explanation on. I find that most men in this industry are excited and encouraged by the number of women getting involved in ways they may have not in years past!
Christie McMichael: Absolutely none.
Siri Bharathi: Not really. I always knew that this was what I wanted to do. However, I do think that women must go the extra mile in this industry to prove that they know what they’re doing, or they may not be taken seriously.
Haley Jones: Of course! I thought this was a male dominated industry and I would never be treated with respect. Although I have had to earn my respect, just like they did, the reservations are no longer there. I work just as hard as any of the boys and they see that too!
Christie McMichael: Don’t hold back!
Siri Bharathi: I think it’s definitely harder the first few years but once people know your value, it gets easier. The mantra is the same as with any industry – work hard, learn as much as you can, be a sponge-absorb everything around you and go on site visits/work in the site as much as possible. In this industry, site knowledge is everything.
Haley Jones: BE BOLD! Often in construction women tend to let men be on the forefront of decision making when we have been instrumental to the entire process. Don’t let this be you! Speak up for the things that you know are right and make your voice heard.
Residential Division – Raleigh, NC
Some advice that I would give to a woman starting out in this industry is:
- Know your trade and be good at what you do so you can set a positive tone to the younger generation that will follow you.
- You don’t need to be aggressive, but it’s important to be assertive.
- Encourage other women!
- Be resilient and leverage all resources and relationships.
- Do what is necessary to go above and beyond for your customers and your team.
- Treat everyone with respect, fairness, compassion and understanding.
- Love your job!
Sheet Metal – Raleigh, NC