Women in building trades?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by chamoisee, Dec 25, 2005.

  1. chamoisee

    chamoisee Well-Known Member

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    Are there any women here who work in construction or building trades? What specifically, do you do, and have you encountered a lot of resistance in your field based on your sex?

    I am becoming bored with what I currently do (working in a grocery store) and while my pay is pretty decent in relation to the pay scale there (I make between $7-$8 an hour, which isn't bad), it is hard for me to do more than just make ends meet on that pay, with 6 kids. Furthermore, I dislike working in a small area with a bunch of other women, and I don't find the job interesting/challenging enough to want to do it on a very long term basis, unless things changed.

    So I was considering something like construction; a field that both pays better, has less interaction with women, and is more satisfying and diverse.
    I have some limited experience, mostly with drywall finishing, painting (not something I'd want to do exclusively) and helping out. Although I am small and female, I'm physically fit and certainly don't mind hard work or physical labor. So do you think this is just a pipe dream or a viable possibility? Ideas anyone?
     
  2. Kazahleenah

    Kazahleenah Disgruntled citizen

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    I'm not currently in building trades, but in the past I have been a roofer and a tower climber. The roofers ribbed me in fun at first, till they realized that I could (and did) keep up with the job. Climbing, the only resistance was that the boss had told the guys to watch what they said once I was hired... :cool: It didn't take long though, and we were all at ease with each other and getting along quite nicley.
    I'd say that so long as you can do the job, have no 'female attitude' and can joke and take a joke.... Go For It!!

    Kaza
     

  3. TNHermit

    TNHermit Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Women in the building trades is not all that unusual. Not many in the carpenter trades. Pretty heavy work. But seen electrcians, plumbers,drywall finishers and of course painters. Seen one women that hung 4x12 sheets of drywall herself. it was no contest :) She was short and stout :) Threw that thing on her knee and kicked it up there.
    You'll have the same problem we all do. Fighting to get a decent wage. Especially with all the illegals. Most guys don't think much of a women working unless she is out there teasing. or whining more than we do all ready :) Creekdreamer may chime in here. She was a bridge builder for a few years..
    If you got an aptitiude I would try for electrican work. their generally better paid and its more brain than brawn. THe other thing is if you could start a good cleaning crew. Always looking for those guys. And you can usually work all the hours you want and make good money. Good Luck
     
  4. catahoula

    catahoula Well-Known Member

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    I've worked construction, landscaping and at a lumber yard. I've seen women in all fields, drywallers, painters, framers, roofers, heavy equipment operation. If I were you I would hook up with a finish carpenter, they are always in demand and you get to work in a mostly empty house, you get to put the final touch on a project and you don't have to work in mud, rain or snow. Most of the crews I've worked with and for, have been pretty sexist. The last guy I worked for was so bad, I rolled up my tools and walked off the job after a day and a half. Now I drive tractors in the spring and fall and a combine or grain truck during harvest, probably the most fun I've ever had working. This country was founded on pipe dreams, give it a try and take no crap, you found one job you can find another just as easy. Good luck.
     
  5. Rocky

    Rocky Well-Known Member

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    My friend, Ray worked as a Superintendant in the painting biz. He preferred having an equal number of women painters. He said they were superior at the detail work and also very reliable. I don't know where you live, but I believe that after a period of time as an apprentice, that you would be earning considerable more than $7. - $8.
     
  6. moopups

    moopups In Remembrance

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    There is a woman electrician that boards her horse here, just make sure you know the job as well as anyone else. You will be accepted if you can perform as well as others. She is in the $15.00 range per hour group.

    I once had 2 sisters doing rooves as well as any body else. Shingles. 'Stay at home women' are a thing of the past. Get out there and sweat like men do, earn you keep, be mean, tell lies, kick hineys, ect.......
     
  7. Gercarson

    Gercarson Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I knew one woman who was a contractor - she was in high demand. She said it took little time to gain the respect that she earned. Your own attitude is what's important and you can see from these posts that many women are successful "building trade" participants. Go for it!
     
  8. Oregonsparkie

    Oregonsparkie Well-Known Member

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    I am an electrician(if ya cant tell by the name). I have seen many woman in the trade. I personally dont like it. Im sure many woman are capable of doing much of the work but the men treat them like they are fragile and give them easy jobs. I have also seen them use their gender to their favor. My field requires some heavy lifting which is not suited to about 95% of the women I have seen. Most spend way to much time standing and watching instead of doing. I have also seen this behaviour in the lumber mills too!!!
     
  9. sisterpine

    sisterpine Goshen Farm Supporter

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    there are both good and bad men and women in almost any profession. some earn your respect and some earn your distain. i will not judge any group based upon my limited experience with their "kind". i say if you want to work at a traditionally male job and think you will be good at it then you should go for it. i have often said this very same thing to men who wanted to work at traditionally female jobs...what the heck difference does it make how a person is hung if they can get the job done/
    ?
     
  10. nananeise

    nananeise Member

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    I've flagged traffic for a road crew, worked at a gas station pumping gas (which detailed the basic oil, transmission, brake and radiator checks), construction cleaning business.. Ended up being a painter for years, that started with a contractor I did construction cleaning for, I asked if he needed any more painters, he just smiled and said paint the trim around the front door.. I did it with the whole carpenter crew watching, long story short, I got the job doing most if not all trim work.. Did the priming, caulking, puttying and final coats of paint.. Got myself paid $12 to $15 an hour after a couple of years.. Loved doing it.. The only thing the contractor made me not do, was the outside of what we called the dog house windows on second and third story houses, he didn't want me hanging out on the roofs painting those.. I would had, heck I was hanging out windows cleaning them from condo's on the beach when I was doing construction cleaning in FL.. But he refused to let me..
    None of the carpenter crew ever treated me with no respect except one.. They were all asked to watch their mouths, not just because of me, but homeowners could be right around the corner anytime, so it was just a company policy at all times.. The one guy got use to me being around after a few months that when he would be talking the "f" word was used often.. I asked him to tone it down with that word, I did ask him directly with no-one around and very politely.. He jumped back, slapped his chest with his hands and said "Get On - Get Off" , which means for me to get off his rear.. :)
    I thought to myself that I showed him respect by asking him nicely and not in front of anyone and he threw dis-respect in my face.. So I did take it up with the head carpenter.. Next day, I received an apology with him saying he really shouldn't had done or said those things and gave me a dozen farm fresh eggs.. :) Then he wispered to me that I almost got him fired.. LOL... Next thing you knew, we were going fishing together on our lunch breaks..
    I'm semi-retired now to watch my grandchild thru the week, but seriously thinking about getting into the faux painting and maybe doing some childrens murals for their bedrooms etc.. Some of the people around here are making 20 to 25 dollars an hour doing that kind of painting.. I've built my own chicken coops and about to make the large laying hen coop look like stone with vines and wisteria tree drooping at the corner, all on the outside.. Should look awesome when I get it done.. hopefully LOL
    I've also worked in daycare watching children for years, did that while my son was young so I could work and be with him, but as much as I love kids, I love doing construction type work better..
     
  11. stanb999

    stanb999 Well-Known Member

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    Remember the only way to make good money in the trades is to own the business. Other wise you will always be looking for work.
     
  12. 2A

    2A Well-Known Member

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    My wife worked for about five years doing residential and commercial construction. From light remodels to building entire mini-malls. 5'7", 115lbs and gorgeous(yeah, I'm biased but it's also true) and she never had any problems from guys, or doing the work. OTOH I was camped in an office all the time back then and as such she could kick my 230lb butt pretty much anytime she wanted. GREAT muscle and stamina building, that.

    Kinda cool, actually. :)
     
  13. Cyngbaeld

    Cyngbaeld In Remembrance Supporter

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    Have you thought of doing handyman type work? Learn to lay tile, hang shelves, change door knobs, do odd finish type work and get a good clientele of regulars and you can make a very good living. Many are getting 25 to 30$ an hour. Charge a two hour minimum because you can't spend all your time on the road and make enough.
     
  14. djuhnke

    djuhnke Well-Known Member

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    When I was out fo working working as a painter..there were alot of women doing the faux finishing painting. It seemed a good deal in that you bring some artisitc ability and its not hard work (compared to doing HVAC stuff). You can get paid pretty well if you can do a good job.
     
  15. mamacags

    mamacags Well-Known Member

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    I worked in contractor sales for 5 years. I was the only female in the whole area. Just like in any business you have your share of pigs and then there are some wonderful men. I had one guy feel it was his right to come up to me and squeeze both of my girls for his own pleasure. :grit: I had guys throw things at me and cuss at me, but they did that to the guys I worked with too.

    You have to have some balls to work in a pretty much male dominated work place. You can't take things personally or seriously unless you are threatened with bodily harm. Tasers work well in this situation. :goodjob:
     
  16. Tracy Rimmer

    Tracy Rimmer CF, Classroom & Books Mod Supporter

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    My SIL is a roofer. She owns her own business, and has done well enough to hand the business over to her sons now. She still goes out on jobs, though, as I understand it. I live 3000 kms from her, so it's difficult to keep up with her (literally).

    Tracy
     
  17. farmergirl

    farmergirl Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I wanna know how you manage to make ends meet with that pay. My husband and I have no children and both make around $14/hour and we're always living paycheck to paycheck. We do everything we can think of to cut expenses....cook most meals at home, carpool to work, limit entertainment spending...and we're still broke! I'd love to hear how it's possible to live on less. We're looking to simplify in any way we can.
     
  18. chamoisee

    chamoisee Well-Known Member

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    Well, to be fair, my boyfriend also brings in money (about the same amount as I did before I was on maternity leave) and the father of three of the kids has joint custody so he pays for the tuition for my daughter and the food and expenses when they're at his place.

    But before my boyfriend moved in, I still managed..I just had to work 7 days a week.

    Other than that, I think we must net about $1500 a month, together.

    -$450 rent
    -$100 electricity (in winter it's more, in summer, less)
    -$30 phone
    -$150 car insurance
    -$150-$200 gasoline
    -$16 internet
    -$25 snow tires

    and then there is the hay bill, which I am presently behind on. This is about $180 a month.
    ---------------------------

    Those are our bills. Most of the rest of the money gets spent on food and thrift store purchases. His car is an old, decrepit looking thing that is reliable but a gas hog, and mine is one that I bought recently, used, and paid for in cash, so we don't have any car payments. It seems to me that we spend entirely too much on food, but :shrug: I like fresh produce and fruits, and we don't have a garden right now. Also, since I work at the store, I probably spend more than I should for lunches and meals, because it's hard not to, when you're surrounded by food and you need something that can be eaten quickly.

    Basically, I hardly ever buy anything *new* (clothes, cars, shoes, etc), and when I am thinking of buying something, I envision myself working at the store, and calculate how many hours of work will be going into the item and whether this item is worth that much work to me? Many times the answer is no- even though I like the thing, I don't want it as badly as I thought.
     
  19. chamoisee

    chamoisee Well-Known Member

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    Electricians make good money, but I have a horror of getting shocked. I am the sort who will crawl on her belly under a fence even though someone says it is turned off, just in case!!

    My ex said something similar about women in construction: That most women aren't in construction because they don't want to work, and the ones that he has seen haven't impressed him much (they were exceptions- a crew of female drywall finishers who did really good work). At the time, I thought he was being chauvinist...but I've come to realize that he's right, except that many women don't seem to want to work one bit harder than they have to in order to retain their jobs, regardless of where they work!

    That wouldn't bother me. I have actually had a guy at work ask me to watch my language. :nono: :blush:

    I don't at all mind hard work. This is the girl who asked for an 8# splitting maul for xmas..and who will be upset if she doesn't get to use it on ALL the firewood....

    My ex mentioned finish carpentry, as did a number of you...I think I am going to look into that, because I do like to be careful/painstaking with what I do and apparently it pays pretty well.
     
  20. Creekdreamer

    Creekdreamer New Member

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    I did heavy construction-bridge building which is the dirtiest, hardest , most dangerous work going for eight years. All in alll, I liked it. But would I recommend it for women? I don`t know. I`m glad I tried it but it was rough at times. Most guys in constuction are just out there trying to make a living and after awhile if you`re sincere about working, they can see you are doing the same . It always took me about two weeks with a new crew to get used to me, you always have to start over. and you have to stand your ground. I really made some good friends over the years and I found most of the guys really decent to work with. I did not pick and choose what work I wanted to do and did whatever the job required if I was able. Most of the men will allow for your lack of strenghth if you have a good attitude and. help you out when you need it just like they would do with a guy. I would say go for a job if you think you would be able to do it. I worked in a sewing factory for a couple of years and give me bridge building over that any time!!