My company has been a sponsor for the Women in Design & Construction event, a leadership conference for women—of all roles, fields and career stages—within the construction industry. My experience at these conferences made me reflect more on women in the workplace. With women making up 57 percent of the labor force, according to the Department of Labor’s website, it is pretty clear that women are here to stay. And, a recent study published in the Harvard Business Review showed that “as more women joined the workforce, they helped make cities more productive and increased wages” for both men and women (between 1980 and 2010).
How can the glass industry attract and retain the most promising female workers?
I wanted to explore this from the perspective of an emerging female professional in our industry, so I reached out to Sabrina Kanaley, an architectural representative from Crawford-Tracey Corp. While pursuing a degree in Information Technology, she used her semester breaks to intern at Crawford-Tracey.
“I walked through the door with absolutely zero concept and understanding of glass, glazing and construction,” she says. “I dove right in, absorbing all the knowledge I could and along the way I realized I was developing a passion for this industry and this job.”
After graduating from college, she returned to Crawford-Tracey because of this passion, which is apparent from her explanation of her job role.
“Though I’m an architectural rep, I’ve really got my hands in many ‘cookie jars.’ I work closely with the president of CTC in our design assist department. We collaborate with our engineering and drafting team to put together project specific system details and takeoffs, which we then provide to architects and GCs interested in utilizing our system as their basis of design. I also work closely with our director of sales and estimating and I frequently estimate projects that I’ve worked on since the schematic design phase.”
As someone fairly new and developing a real passion for her work, Sabrina’s perspective on what would incentivize her to stay and grow in this industry is interesting.
“Truly, I would like to see not only myself, but more women in roles of leadership and management. Gender needs to stop being a decision factor. Work ethic, qualifications, education and performance need to be recognized and rewarded accordingly.”
When asked what the glass industry can do to attract more women, she said, “networking is a must. The glass industry needs to make itself known. Partner with universities, be present during career days and offer intern programs for college students. Start making more of an effort, be bold and show women that there is a place for them in this industry; give them a reason to be interested!”
Sabrina’s story is not unique. There are many talented and hardworking women in our industry who thrive in their roles when given the opportunity. It is up to us as an industry to encourage women to choose the glass industry—and decide to stay.
Diana San Diego is vice president of marketing for Safti First. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Glass Association, Glass Magazine editors, or other glassblog contributors.