Women In Construction at Kensington Glass
Every year, the first full week of March marks the National Women in Construction Week. At Kensington Glass Arts, we are proud of our diverse and inclusive employees – including women in the construction field. In this article, we wanted to take the time to honor the history of women in construction, discuss the women in construction at Kensington Glass Arts (KGa), and give women further resources to help them with their careers.
History of Women in Construction
Until World War II, construction was considered a non-traditional career for women. When the men of the United States went off to war, women quickly filled the necessary positions left empty. By 1943, women were operating cranes, working as welders, and even working in electrical engineering. However, it wasn’t until the Civil Rights Act in 1964 and affirmative action in 1965 that gender discrimination was prohibited. Unfortunately, women were still slow to join the construction industry. As late as 1996, only 9% of all construction employees are women. Whether this was due to personal biases against non-traditional careers for women, or inherent discrimination within construction employers is difficult to say.
Women at Kensington Glass Arts
At Kensington Glass Arts, we are proud to have women working in all positions at the company. From our entry-level positions of glass helpers to office workers and executive positions, Kensington Glass Arts employs women at any and every position at the company. We selected a few women to interview about their experience at Kensington Glass Arts. Read more about women at KGa breaking the glass ceiling now!
Fabrication, Field Workers, and Project Managers
Megan Anderson, one of our glass helpers, admits that her fellow male coworkers treated her differently at first. However, her coworkers’ attitude quickly changed when Megan completed her training. That was over three years ago. “If a woman wants to join the construction industry, they shouldn’t feel afraid,” Megan explained. “Even if you’re afraid that you can’t lift the heavy pieces of glass, KGa is very accommodating to your needs. You can learn how to caulk, then build up to lifting heavy objects.”
Jennay Johnson, one of our Seam and Wash Technicians, works in our fabrication facility in Ijamsville, MD. Jennay shares similar sentiments to Megan. “I want women to know that construction is a great career no matter your gender. If you work hard, you’ll do well.” Jennay also expressed that it’s important we teach young women about careers in construction. “We need to tell female students that a career in construction can lead to a good, steady job where you feel free to be independent.”
Some of our employees work in the office but help our field workers’ jobs move more smoothly. One such individual who falls under this category is Kate Derexson, our Commercial Service Manager. Kate noted that prior to her employment at KGa, she faced some struggles women in the construction industry often face. During her Employee Spotlight interview, Kate said:
I faced many challenges and there were times where I felt like I had to prove my knowledge, but it was all valuable experiences that I wouldn’t trade.Kate Derexson, Kensington Glass Arts Service Department Manager
Not everyone who works at Kensington Glass Arts works directly at our fabrication facility or project sites. Several women at Kensington Glass Arts work in our offices as accountants, project administrators, and even executives.
Jeanne Enders started her career in construction after needing a change of pace from her job in psychological care. In May of 2014, Jeanne accepted the position of Project Administrator with Kensington Glass Arts. This new position was created to support our Vice Presidents, train new Project Management employees in KGa’s processes and procedures, creating and implementing KGa processes and procedures, and providing guidance and support to the Project Administrators.
Our Vice President of Human Resources, Cindy French, represents part of the 7.5% of women in high-level management positions in construction. Cindy says that she enjoys having the option to take risks at KGa. Cindy said “I really like the way people here are rewarded for taking risks. People here really do believe they can do anything.
There are various organizations that support women in construction. One such organization is the National Association of Women In Construction (NAWIC). This organization was founded in 1953 to “create a support network for women working in a male-dominated field,”. A membership to the NAWIC allows you to take advantage of professional and educational benefits. Furthermore, businesses can take advantage of business development and other benefits. There are many different types of membership to the NAWIC, so we recommend you check out our website to learn more.
Another organization that KGa recommends is the Professional Women in Construction (PWC) organization. The PWC is a nonprofit organization that “seeks to support, advance, and connect women and promote diversity within the architecture, engineering, construction, (AEC) and related industries,”. PWC members include contractors, suppliers, firms, and more. Currently, the PWC is working to build a chapter in Washington, D.C. Membership to the PWC is available to students, individuals, and companies.
There are other resources for women in construction that are specific to certain regions in the world. However, we believe the above two resources are great to find educational, networking, and any other professional opportunities you’re looking for.
About Kensington Glass Arts
Kensington Glass Arts is a commercial glazier, glass installer, fabricator, and commercial service provider. Kensington Glass Arts is an equal opportunity employer with diverse employees from around the world. Kensington Glass Arts has been nominated for Top 50 Places to Work in Frederick, Maryland. We are always looking for individuals passionate about the construction industry to join our company. Start your career in construction and become part of the future of glass by applying to our open positions.
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