The week of March 5th is Women in Construction Week. This is a time when various organizations like National Women in Roofing showcase the importance of women to the construction industry. For us at Draper DNA, this week is a time to reflect on the women in construction we are privileged to work with each day. For me, Shawn Draper, I am reminded of the many women in construction that are and have been a part of my story.
Two and a half years ago, my wife and I decided to build our forever home in a beautiful, established community in a small town. We created a design based on our experiences in building and remodeling homes before and the land we acquired to build on. We connected with a builder, RMR Custom Homes, that was building beautiful homes in our new community. This is when we were introduced to Annette, the woman in construction that helped us achieve our vision for our home.
Annette may be best described as a project manager. She translated our design to working plans for the builder, guided both us and the builder through the changes that mattered, did the products searches and acquisitions, coordinated material ordering and delivery, and helped keep track of the budget real time.
I attribute as much of the success of realizing our vision for our new home to Annette as I do the builder and contractors on site. There were many instances where she helped me translate my vision to the builder. Annette also helped me pursue the exact materials I was seeking because she was able to share my vision. I believe it is important to note our home design is unique. This house was designed from the inside out, meaning the windows, doors, and room layouts are based on how we experience them inside the house. The exterior is designed to support what we are doing inside the house. As a result, some people call our home plain. We call it Scandinavian farmhouse. Annette helped us achieve our vision.
I have been fortunate to work with many amazing women in construction throughout my career. One of these incredible women is the head of marketing for our client DaVinci Roofscapes, Wendy. What makes Wendy amazing is her unbelievable ability to recite the details of highly technical and nuanced product information at the drop of a hat. I am continuously impressed by her complete grasp and ownership of the product line. DaVinci products are high performance synthetic shingles that replicate slate and shake. Wendy knows the details of installation, product performance in severe weather conditions, and the chemistry behind the manufacturing. Amazing!
Wendy is one example of the many women in construction that I have had the privilege of working with to date. Women are a critical part of the construction industry. They are architects, designers, product engineers, manufacturing leaders, and, yes, builders and remodelers.
Cindy is a second-generation remodeler. She is following in her father’s footsteps as the leader of a formidable remodeling business and a national leader for the remodeling industry. I first met Cindy at a Remodelers Council meeting in Washington DC. I was working with Weathershield Windows and Doors at the time and served as a manufacturer’s member on the Council. Cindy shared her experiences of entering the industry and learning the trade and business. She was very generous in sharing all that was required of a remodeler, a business owner, and a woman in construction. She impressed upon me her special ability to connect with all people, carry on a very technical conversation and make it easy to understand, and have a unique point of view respected.
Honesty is another of Cindy’s strengths and she was candid about how she is often underestimated by men and questioned by women. Cindy explained that she uses both challenges to her advantage. Anyone who underestimates her often fails to give her the attention she deserves, and they are left behind. Questioning Cindy is an invitation to learn just how accomplished she is as a remodeler and businessperson. Cindy uses what others may perceive as weaknesses to her advantage.
More than swinging a hammer
In many reports, articles, and posts, women in construction are defined as builders, remodelers, architects, and designers. They are also labelled as skilled trades. The reported breakdown is as follows:
- Builders and remodelers – 10%
- Architects – 17%
- Designers – 69%
The percentages are even lower for management positions within each of these “trades.”
The National Women in Roofing association reports only 3.9% of the construction workforce are women. I believe the women in construction are underestimated. Here is an excerpt from a blog post we wrote for Women in Construction 2022:
Here is the part that is bothering us about how women in construction are being framed. It fails to include a large and significant segment of the industry that is being driven by women. Here are a few more facts and figures to demonstrate what we mean:
- Sales for builders, suppliers, and manufacturers including real estate – 61.2 % women
- Marketing for builders, suppliers, and manufacturers including product development – 60% women
- Customer services for these same three segments of the construction industry – 66.7% women
- Construction trade media editors – 60% women
- Advertising agencies including creatives, PR, social media, digital, and account management – 52.5% women
I, we, firmly believe the definition of women in construction is ready to be reframed to include all the talented people contributing to the success of one of the pillars of our economy and country.
So, you can see my story of women in construction during this week of recognition and beyond is filled with incredible women that serve the industry at exceptional levels starting with the three I shared with you here. The twist in the story is the underestimated participation and contribution of women working in the construction industry. My call to action from this story is to have the industry fully recognize the contributions women in construction are making today. I absolutely agree there is an opportunity for more women in construction. I simply want those serving it today to be properly recognized.
We feature several impressive women in construction in our There is a Difference video and blog series. Here are a few we recommend to you:
Niki McNeill Brown, Interior Designer
Heather McCune, Marketing Director
Sara Gutterman, Publisher, Green Builder Media