I have been in the construction industry for more than two decades. I think that just about qualifies me as an expert. My career has been as rewarding as it’s been challenging.
At the beginning of my career, I started out in the accounting department among several other female employees with one male boss at the top. It was easy to work with women, I knew them, I was one.
Shortly after I got an opportunity to spend my days on a real job site in an actual construction trailer. I was excited to learn but a little apprehensive to be working in the field. I knew the Construction Manager and some of the Superintendents and I figured that since I grew up with two brothers, I could handle it.
I learned so much in that trailer and on that job site.
I learned that construction plans always look good on paper but are rarely build-able the way they are drawn.
I learned that sometimes inspectors just want to give you a hard time.
I learned that guys “posture” a lot more then women but they can yell at each other one minute and laugh and joke the next.
I learned that the lunch truck only comes once and if you miss it, you go hungry.
I also learned that if you are a female where there are no other females around, you get hit on a LOT.
I learned that some guys will treat you like you are an idiot even when you aren’t.
Most of my own team was respectful and helpful. They were protective of me and when they were around, no one acted out of line.
When I was on my own however, the funniest thing happened. I was hit on, talked down to, condescended to, yelled at and even made fun of.
Comments about my breasts- yes.
Guys scratching their privates in front of me- yep.
Oh and did I forget to mention I was 6 months pregnant? It didn’t seem to matter one bit.
Construction workers are often stereotyped as vulgar and inappropriate toward women. I have experienced my fair share of that.
I have also found many of them to to be respectful, polite, helpful, sweet and kind.
I will say one thing, how I was treated on the job site was far less offensive compared to what I experienced in the “office”. Go figure.