I’ve been with Professional Remodeler for fewer than three years, but in that relatively short amount of time I’ve seen an interesting change take place in the industry. It has to do with the way 9 percent of remodeling professionals are perceived by others and themselves. The change is subtle, but noticeable.
I’m talking about women.
I remember being brand new on the job and walking the floor of a trade show with Sal Alfano, our director of content, as he introduced me to various companies and products. The majority of the booths were staffed by men, and I noticed that they mostly made eye contact with Sal. In a number of cases, when I asked a question, they would answer as if he had asked it. I don’t think that anyone intended to insult me, yet I do believe that my gender played a role in those interactions, even if it wasn’t conscious.
In 2015, Professional Remodeler along with Professional Builder hosted the first Women in Residential Construction conference. There were about 75 women there and the camaraderie and enthusiasm was amazing. Many of the women in that room had experienced being treated differently at one time or another, and while they weren’t angry—this was an upbeat group—they were conscious of the challenges they had faced to become successful in a male-dominated industry.
Over the next year, I began to notice small signs of change. Two different homeowners called to ask if I could recommend a woman-owned remodeling company in their area. Female project managers started becoming increasingly common, and I saw women in the construction industry getting more support and mainstream media attention than they had in the past. A shift had quietly taken place, or maybe it had been occurring for a long time and finally reached critical mass.
We had 140 women at last years’ conference, and the mood there reflected the larger trend I was seeing. The event felt celebratory, exuberant even, with a palpable energy and excitement.
This year we’re expecting 200 attendees.
We are on the cusp of what’s likely the most exciting time for women in construction in the industry’s history. I am honored to be here at this moment, and I invite you to come enjoy it with me.
Our conference is from Sept. 13-15 at the Omni Resort & Spa, in Scottsdale, Ariz. It will feature inspiring and insightful industry speakers, creative workshops, and great networking opportunities. To register, click here. You won’t regret it!