As a woman who has worked most of my career in the construction field, I can say that I have a good perspective on the matter. Working in construction and manufacturing as a woman is nothing new, but you have to admit that it is still seen as a rare situation. Many men in the workforce seem surprised to see a woman working along side them even though it has been going on for quite some time now.
I started in my early twenties working with my partner in life painting houses. This helped me gain new appreciation of the work that he did each and every day. I was so proud of him for starting his own business in the industry at such a young age and was excited to help out as much as I could. I came from a background working in fast food and I worked at a pet store for three years. When I found out that I could learn the trade, I was excited to learn.
I never could have understood the physical work that goes into this sort of job without ever having to do it week after week. This is the kind of job that can ware on you. Even in my early twenties I had body pain that I had never experienced before, from crawling around on the floors to cover them in paper and climbing a ladder to reach the top of windows or door frames to tape off. Prepping for paint was my least favorite chore. I would much rather do the clean up after the job was completed, but I stuck with it and learned skills that would help me later in life!
After a couple of years working on new home construction, we ended up moving and closing the business. It was tragic, but worked out better for us. No more seven days a week work, and we could concentrate on enjoying life while we were still young. It was a struggle for me at first since I only had the one position in construction to pull experience from. I got to admit, I was let down by many companies that would not give me a chance. Some even laughed at me when I went to apply. I ended up working for the Target store part time while I waited to find something better. Our daughter was only two years old at the time, so I wasn’t sure I was ready to jump into a full time position anyways.
Never the less, I kept my eyes and ears open for any opportunities that my look promising. And one came when my father in law told me about a local contractor that was looking for help doing re-models. I had never done this type of work, but landed the job with good references. Each week was a different type of work. We could be doing roofing one week and flooring the next. You would never know what was around the corner. There was even some painting that needed done as well, but I had never actually done any painting before, only prep work and clean up. I did my best and gained new skills!
Working with men came naturally since I had worked with the small crew of men before and was always treated respectfully I never had a second thought on the matter other than the fact that I was usually the only woman working on the job. This had become the norm for me, so no need to second guess any reason. I only knew that this position was providing me a good wadge and steady work that kept me on my toes and learning as I went. This type of work is hard to get board of due to the nature of the hustle. Months passed before I realized how much I had learned, and I was having fun doing it! My partner and I also met a couple who worked for the same contractor and we became close friends. I was very great full since they had a daughter of the same age as our little girl. It’s like it was destiny for us to meet and work together. I thought this would never end and didn’t worry about trying to find other work. I was happy with the way life was playing out, so why try to change it?
After two years of working for this company, they called it quits. The four of us were the last people working for the company in the last few weeks, and we were all surprised that this was happening. But the skills I learned from this position was carried with me later in life. Not long after, I landed a position at a small custom cabinet shop. I was hired to do all the sanding that needed to be done, and I loved it! This position was the lowest payed position and I quickly learned that I wanted to move up. It never really dawned on me that I could actually master this place and manage to move up fast. Within only a couple of years, I was building instead of sanding and had a few people under me, so technically I was management.