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2016FallShotcreteEMag

Women in Construction The shotcrete industry—whether dealing with recreational, infrastructure, or underground applications—is inarguably a male-dominated field. Can this change? If so, why should it, and why should we care? According to 2014 Bureau of Labor statistics (refer to Table 1), women comprise only 9% of the construction industry in the United States. Considering how—by contrast—women are 51% of the country’s population, this is a significant underrepresentation. It also, however, signifies a tremendous opportunity for the industry’s benefit. Vast Potential As a female executive in a reputable luxury shotcrete construction company, I am part of that 9%. I was not born into the construction world, and I didn’t go to school for this or receive any formal training in construction management. And yet, in the course of career transition, I have found a remarkable and rewarding challenge in this industry. I know I am by no means an exception. There are serious female power players in the shotcrete and pool industries. Furthermore, there are countless other women in other fields who are upwardly mobile, ambitious, and in possession of highly transferrable skills that we have needed to quickly develop to survive in these challenging economic times. These skills—among them a modern aesthetic, polished communication, technological By Lily Samuels savvy, commitment to company brand and message, keen sensibilities as consumers, solutionoriented critical thinking, consensus-building, and the list goes on—can pay massive dividends for any company. My suggestion to the pool, shotcrete, and general construction industries: find these people and hire them. Reach outside the immediate market and access female candidates with multidisciplinary backgrounds, including the social sciences, the arts, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), law, and business. Diversification: New Life Why should you hire them? Because diversification of your work force is like a shot in the arm, imparting vitality, new ideas, and fresh thinking that can help a company stay relevant. One thing we know about the pool industry in particular is that it is full of family businesses, many of them multi-generational. It recruits from within: children will get a start in the family shop and then either take the helm or move laterally to other companies in the industry. Anecdotally, we know that many women in the industry hold their positions because their fathers or husbands needed administrative or logistical support while doing field work, so they run the office or back-end operations, or dig further into the business and end up taking over. Many of these women hold important positions in the shotcrete industry today, and their contributions cannot be overstated. The “legacy” factor of the pool industry is one of its strengths. Every rose has its thorn, however; and in some of these companies, a particular way of doing things might linger for generations and become set in stone just because that is the way it has “always been done.” While these family enterprises are at the heart of American small business, their environments can in some cases become closed off and stagnated, no longer reflecting either the market or resonating with the client they endeavor to serve. While bearing the utmost respect for the past, I humbly suggest that the rapidly changing world we live in requires a dogged commitment to selfreinvention, growth, and a fearless approach to change. The way business is conducted is constantly evolving. Survival is predicated on the ability to correctly interpret and respond to those Table 1: 2014 Bureau of Labor statistics Industry % of workers Services 59% Finance 54% Wholesale and retail 46% Public administration 45% Manufacturing 28% Agriculture 24% Transportation 23% Mining 13% Construction 9% All industries 47% Less than 10% of the construction industry is female, whereas other sectors have much higher rates of female employment (Source of table: www.osha.gov/doc/topics/women) 18 Shotcrete • Fall 2016


2016FallShotcreteEMag
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