Building career in construction possible for women too
HOUSE RULES: Pamela House, senior accountant at Gilbane Building Co., says companies and programs need to begin talking about alternative career paths as early as middle school.
By Rebecca Keister PBN Staff Writer
Pamela House considers herself lucky to have found someone willing to take a chance and offer her a foot in the door to a lifelong career when she was a single mother in the late 1970s, with only a part-time job and no real job training.
That the career happened to be in construction was even more unheard of for women than it may be today. But House relished the opportunity to make her way up the chain at Gilbane Building Company, where she works as a senior accountant.
In September she was awarded the Crystal Achievement Award from the National Association of Women in Construction, an organization she has belonged to for close to 20 years. She has held several leadership roles with the group, including on its board of directors.
PBN: Why do you think women might be reluctant to consider a career in the construction industry?
House: Because there's the stereotypical digging the ditch [assumption about the work] and not realizing the full range of possibilities that there are. This industry is about a lot more, everything from architects to accountants to IT. Right now, there's a revolution in the construction industry and the technology is incredible. It's incredible the amount of knowledge that [you need] for this job. I'd like to see more women in the trades and there's really no reason there shouldn't be. The days of women not being [able] to be out in the field are gone.
PBN: But are there some job functions women cannot do, simply because of size and strength?
House: That's up to them. There's a lot of women who can do some physical stuff better than some guys. [But] no one is expecting someone to do a job they can't do. As long as you can keep up, the days of physical limitations are over. It's hard to attract the next generation to the trades, because it's a different animal today. Maybe the reason is a lot of young people have been behind a computer all their lives. Girls in nontraditional trades are an age-old problem. That's why [someone] encouraged me to think outside the box. I do believe that afforded me to work my way up in the time when the industry was growing.