Women In Construction Week is part of the broader Women’s History Month celebration in March. The week, started by the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) is an opportunity to highlight the growing role of women in the construction industry.
“NAWIC’s core purpose is ‘enhancing the success of women in the construction industry’ and what better way to continue this purpose, but to dedicate our WIC Week, not only to our members, but to all women working in and for the construction industry and to recognize the contributions women make to the success of projects in all facets of the industry,” said NAWIC President Riki F. Lovejoy, CBT, CIT.
Women represent 47% of the total U.S. workforce and are playing an increasingly significant role in the world of construction. Yet according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and OSHA, only 9% of total construction employees are women.
Given this fact, it’s inspiring to come across women who are thriving in such a traditionally male-dominated industry.
In honor of Women in Construction Week, Gage Brothers wants to highlight some exceptional women who help to make Gage Brothers a stronger and more competitive company. Read on to explore Tara Bailey’s experiences in construction and to find out her advice for others looking to take a similar path.
Job Title: Purchasing Manager
Q: How long have you been in the manufacturing industry?
A: I grew up with my family owning a manufacturing company so I have been around it my entire life. I have been working in the manufacturing industry now for more than 14 years. I can’t imagine working in any other industry.
Q: Why did you choose a non-traditional career field?
A: I found something that I enjoy doing and that is challenging. My great grandma passed away before I was born but I have always admired her. Back in the 1930’s and until she passed she owned and ran the family business with my great grandfather. She was a very involved business owner. She didn’t just answer phones she actually was involved with the running the business. She was breaking barriers back then and I have always looked up to her for that. My grandmother has always been the same way so I grew up around strong women working in non-traditional career fields at the time.
Q: Have you ever faced any barriers in what is a male-dominated industry?
A: There have been times that I feel I wasn’t taken seriously due to the fact I am a woman. I have had times in the past where I have told someone how to solve an issue they were having and they told me my solution was incorrect. They then proceeded to asked someone who was male. The male gave them the exact same answer and it was correct. I’ve also been told I couldn’t do something because I am a woman but I have the attitude of watch me and I will prove you wrong. I’ve always turned being told I can’t into motivation.
Q: What challenges do you see other women in construction facing?
A: I think the biggest challenge is getting people past the idea that you have to be a male to work in construction. If you can get your own mind to think “I can do this” and “I belong here,” that is half the battle.
Q: What is the most satisfying part of your job?
A: The most satisfying part of my job is solving problems. When I can provide a solution to a problem and improve a situation or process. I also enjoy when I am in a group and looking around to see that I am the only female. Knowing that it doesn’t matter and I am seen as an equal is satisfying.
Q: What motivates you to keep working so hard at Gage Brothers?
A: Gage Brothers is a great company to work for. I have never felt that because I am a woman I am held back here. I find my job challenging and rewarding.
Q: What advice do you have for women who want to work in the construction or manufacturing industry?
A: It’s easy to think that because you’re a woman you can’t work in construction or manufacturing. The truth is the industry has changed and you see more and more women working in it. If construction and manufacturing interest you go for it. Don’t let the fact that you are a woman stop you or the belief that you can’t be feminine and work in the industry. You can wear steel toe shoes and a hard hat and still feel girly.