When Opportunity Knocks, Women Break into Male-Dominated Industries

Current Issue

Click to read.

When Opportunity Knocks, Women Break into Male-Dominated Industries

By Casey Crowther / Published November 2019

Photo by iStockphoto.com/Wavebreakmedia

The stereotypical image of a construction or trades worker from the 1960s is a man in blue jeans, a white T-shirt, and a hardhat. Fast forward a half-century, and not much from that nostalgic picture has changed, according to statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor.

     The Bureau of Labor Statistics tracks more than 500 occupational categories, from blue collar to white collar jobs and everything in between. When broken down along gender lines, a whopping 60 categories employ more than 90 percent men. The 2018 list of male-dominated jobs include bricklayer, mechanic, HVAC technician, iron worker, electrician, carpenter, roofer, and a host of other trades.

     By comparison, only 12 occupational categories feature more than 90 percent of women. That list is led by preschool teachers, dental hygienists, speech pathologists, secretaries, childcare workers, records technicians, dieticians, and hairdressers.

     Statistics don’t tell the whole story, though. Although concrete masons, loggers, and heavy equipment operators will more than likely be men, that doesn’t mean women are avoiding construction-related fields.

      At Target Roofing, for instance, more than one-third of positions in the company’s sales, operations, service, finance, and administrative departments are held by women. From day one, Target Roofing placed a priority on hiring a diverse workforce. That definition goes beyond race to include gender because women are, based on statistics, minorities in the fields of roofing and construction. Target Roofing’s female employees hold titles like sales coordinator, account manager, project delivery coordinator, project manager, inventory manager, service coordinator, accountant, human resources director, and project administrator, among others.

     A CPA, for example, is a “trusted financial advisor who helps individuals, businesses, and other organizations plan and reach their financial goals,” according to the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA). A roofing company needs a professional with that same skill set, as does a medical office, public school, restaurant, retail shop, and many other types of businesses. The fact that a company sells new roofs, vehicles, electronics, or food is irrelevant—CPAs are experts in financial matters.

     In a blog titled “How women are changing the roofing industry,” the online marketplace Roofers Coffee Shop reviewed the post-recession labor shortage in construction, pointing out that women played a significant role in filling this labor void. An added benefit of employing women, according to Roofers Coffee Shop, is that they possess an innate ability to connect with female clients, particularly female business owners. Many customers of Target Roofing are female property managers and business owners, and understandably there is a level of comfort when discussing reports and invoices with female accountants, project managers, or sales coordinators.

     “There’s an ugly stereotype that female customers can often get overcharged because they have little knowledge of the traditionally male-dominated industry,” the post read. “By having female representation, you can help prospective female clients feel at ease and alleviate their fears of being overcharged.”

     In 2016, National Women in Roofing (NWIR) formed to support and advance the careers of women roofing professionals by providing networking, mentoring, education, and recruitment opportunities. NWIR quickly grew to include 43 regional councils, including four in Florida. There’s also the National Association of Women in Construction; National Association for Women in Masonry; Automotive Women’s Alliance Incorporated; Women in HVACR; National Institute for Women in Trades, Technology, and Science; and many other professional organizations committed to helping women excel in male-dominated industries.

     The National Association of Women Business Owners reports that more than 11.6 million firms in the U.S. are owned by women, generating $1.7 trillion in sales annually.

     In a 2018 interview, Seyi Falade of Gainesville-based Cornerstone Barricades points back to the stereotypical careers for men and women as portrayed in the media, advising construction-based companies that the way to employ a more diverse workforce is to expand recruitment opportunities to a wider audience.

     “More doors need to be opened for women in this industry,” she said. “I don’t think the opportunities are very well communicated or even represented in a remotely visible way.”

     Often, companies fail to attract a large, diverse pool of applicants because they aren’t marketing job opportunities to a wide audience. If your firm is in the market for a new project superintendent, for example, consider these recruiting strategies to reach additional candidates:

  • Job boards: Companies often post job ads on message boards specific to their industry but not specific to that position. Connect with deans at local business schools and technical colleges to see if they know of any qualified alumni looking to advance their careers.
  • Online advertisements: Advances in technology mean you can serve an online job posting to specific audiences, targeting all project superintendents in Greater Orlando, Miami-Dade, Tampa Bay, or even statewide.
  • Job fairs: Employment offices, career centers, and colleges often sponsor job fairs that attract a wide range of individuals seeking new opportunities. It’s a good place to reach prospects who might not subscribe to industry journals or news publications or scan online job sites.
  • Website: Embed a widget for Indeed, LinkedIn, or your preferred job listing search engine on your website, and make sure images on your website are reflective of the individuals who work there.
  • Social media: Chances are, someone in your social circle is a project superintendent, is married to a superintendent, or at least knows one. A survey from the Society for Human Resource Management found that a majority of organizations that use social media for recruitment are doing so to identify passive job candidates—those who aren’t actively searching but will entertain offers if approached with the right opportunity. 

Scott O’Connor

Casey Crowther, President, Target Roofing & Sheet Metal

Casey Crowther is a fifth-generation roofer and president of Target Roofing & Sheet Metal, a licensed and insured commercial roofing specialist that provides new roofs, reroofs, repairs, and maintenance plans. The company is headquartered in Fort Myers. For more information, please visit TargetRoofers.com or call (239) 334-7496.