by: Ivanna Rice-Flewharty
The industry of construction is variable and growing rapidly in these current and progressive times. There are many opportunities to those who choose it as a career track. Great wages, good opportunities and excellent longevity is available in many cases. Moreover, a wide range of skill sets are needed and developed for all situations. From local to global, this field is a monster of a producer and job creator. So, are there disadvantages? Other than the severe conditions sometimes, benefits being limited for some, and physical requirements in the field, some considering construction can be prevented from employment due to these qualifications. Lack of skills or required experience can also hinder those who are seeking employment.
This blog post began because women electricians are scarce and this fact caused curiosity about the potential upswing in employing women electricians currently and in the future. I spoke with several contractors and the overall viewpoint was that they were open to the idea of hiring a woman electrician yet passionate about the fact that the work is hard and many women cannot seem to keep up with the demand of the required labor. By sharing this information, progress can be made to redefine the duties required for this position or discovering ways to improve processes which will get the job done so that everyone, regardless of physicality, can be utilized.
Gathering information is always a strategy for change and improvement, so I went ahead and enlisted a few contacts to provide feedback due to the fact that they work, in some capacity, in the electrical industry. I will be posting the responses in a couple of different posts.
Karen – Electrical Engineer
She works for a power company in Texas and has been at her position, or a variation of her position, for over 30 years. She works among men and women who are in the field and the executive level. The question asked of Karen was,
Q: Do you believe that there is a gender bias in the industry you work for? If so, why? If not, why? Are there are policies in your company involving Equal Pay/Compensation Discrimination (EEO)?
A: Karen states, “I believe there was a heavy gender bias in the electric utility industry because of the nature of the work…” In the beginning, utility “linemen” did a very dangerous job that required a lot of strength and stamina to climb poles and work outdoors. Women have always supported the administrative efforts and worked in warehouses… As the industry changed, bucket trucks became available which made it easier for women to do the field jobs. Also, more women are going into higher level management jobs and various areas of engineering.” Karen’s company is a large company that has an EEO policy in place as well as equal pay for equal experience and performance.
Q: Next, I asked her if she felt limited in her job setting or in the past regarding advancement or wage equality?
A: “In 2004, I had a Director that seemed to be more of a good-old-boy type. He did not discriminate against me but his manner was more old school towards women. He also had what seemed like an angry personality, which everyone recognized, so I don’t think it was (personal). I feel I am not currently limited in any way in my position.”
This information is informative and really helps shed a light on possibilities for those curious about entering into the electrical trade.
If you are interested in getting into the electrical trade, and you are a woman, there are many jobs available in this area other than an electrician. The National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) is one organization that will provide more information to women seeking to get into the trades. Also, the IEC of Lubbock is local but there are national chapters across the nation. Electrical engineering or construction management is also an option. Please consider contacting an electrician and interviewing them on their experience in order to gain a better understanding of this fulfilling career.