Shocking Statistics: Women in Construction Week
Less than 24% – this is the percentage of women working in the manufacture of glass and glass products, despite making up 47% of all employed people. According to the same 2021 Labor Force Statistics report from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics Current Demographic Survey, women make up an even smaller percentage of the general construction industry – 11%.
March marks Women’s History Month and this week has been designated Women in Construction Week. Women may represent a small percentage of the construction industry, but their presence is significant.
Tureka Dixon is a Glazier and Recruitment Coordinator for the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District 21 Council. She says her early days in the company were difficult because no one was helping her navigate the application process. “That’s not the case today,” she says. “There are several pre-apprenticeship programs to help individuals through the process. Once I was accepted into the apprenticeship, I just followed the guidelines. I finished everything [of the tasks I was given]obtained all required certifications and the rest is history.
One of her favorite memories is working as an apprentice on the Dilworth Circle project in downtown Philadelphia, where she also had the opportunity to work alongside fellow glazier, Cindy Ortman.
“She was a union glazier before me – I was still an apprentice and she taught me a lot. That doesn’t happen often, especially with so few women in the business. When we have the opportunity to work with each other, it’s just extra love.
However, just because Dixon cleared the first hurdle to start in the industry on her own, she still faces challenges that come with being one of the few women in the business. She says she’s put extra boundaries in place and works a little harder than most.
“You have to let people know where you are and show your determination and your work ethic. At the end of the day, you arrive on site to work and get paid. It’s important not to let anyone get in your way.
Her biggest challenge, she says, is accepting that she may be the only woman at work.
“There are very few women in the profession. You have to accept this fact first, and once you get over it and set boundaries for yourself and your co-workers, the job is done.
Although part of a daunting statistic, her relationship with her male counterparts is anything but. She describes them as her brothers – who, like real brothers, annoy her, but are also protective.
When it comes to encouraging other women to join the field, Dixon believes advertising is one of the best ways to increase numbers. If women see other women working, there will be more inquiries, and she has seen that become commonplace. “Slowly but surely the word is spreading,” she says.
“I’m proud to belong to a union that values people and the hard work they do. Glazing is not just a job; it’s a fulfilling career. We’re not just colleagues, we’re family,” says Dixon.
Lety Arias is another woman in the glass industry, as CEO of Custom Glass Specialties Inc., based in National City, California. She first worked alongside her father in 1979, then started her own business 10 years later with her husband, Joe. . She says her daughter even followed her path and now works alongside her.
Arias says one of her biggest challenges as a woman in a male-dominated industry is that men don’t always want to talk to her at first.
“They want to talk to a man, not a woman,” she said. “They don’t think we know and understand this business, but we do – it’s in our blood.”
Arias says glass and glazing are “wonderful businesses” and women will be more encouraged to be a part of it when the glazing industry and community allows them to show they have the skills to succeed.
“I feel like we’ve accomplished so much,” she says. Custom Glass works on commercial and residential glazing and Arias says that as a woman involved in these jobs, seeing a project come to fruition and “part of someone’s dream”, she sees more opportunities for the future. .