The focus of Women in Construction (WIC) Week (March 3-9) is to highlight women as a viable component of the construction industry. WIC Week also provides an occasion for NAWIC’s thousands of members across the country to raise awareness of the opportunities available for women in the construction industry and to emphasize the growing role of women in the industry. It is also a time for local chapters to give back to their communities.
Follow along with us throughout the week as we sit down and chat with some of our incredible Women in Construction at Comfort Systems USA Southwest!
NAOMI TSOSIE- COMFORT SYSTEMS USA SOUTHWEST START-UP TECHNICIAN
Years in the industry: 36 years
Years at Comfort Systems USA Southwest: 16 years
Why did you originally seek a job within a construction company?
While in high school, I received a certification in welding. After graduation, I was hired immediately. Within a month’s time, I was promoted to Forewoman. This gave me confidence that I could succeed in this industry. In addition, my preference was to not to sit behind a desk or in a office, but to actually being doing the work.
What do you like the most about working in the construction industry? What do you like the most about working at Comfort Systems USA Southwest?
I enjoy the challenge that each day and job brings and it keeps me on my toes being in this industry.
The thing I like about working with Comfort Systems USA Southwest is the opportunity to advance in to a trade that I fully enjoy. I was hired as a pipe fitter helper initially. I then moved into the sheet metal department and was ultimately hired as a Forewoman for 10 years in this department. I desired a change in my career path and chose to move into controls. The leadership team was supportive and allowed me to move into the Start-up Department as a Start-up Technician.
If applicable, how does working at Comfort Systems USA Southwest differ from other construction companies you previously worked at?
As a single parent of three daughters, this has kept me employed to provide the means for me to support my children. Because of my diverse experience and certification, I have been able to assist in other areas of the company, in the field.
There is an obvious lack of women within our industry (compared to men in the industry). Comfort Systems USA Southwest is making a concerted effort to attract more women into the industry. Personally, do you feel that the construction industry as a whole is embracing women?
In fact, according to the 2018 Department of Labor Statistics, women make less than 1% of the total population in Construction. More specifically, in 2018 there were 99,000 women in construction of a total of a population of 11,181,000. I would agree that there is a lack of women in the Construction Industry. Even more unbalanced is when you look at the percentage of female construction laborers actually in the field: 1%. To put it in perspective, that is one female for every 100 men.
I believe there is still work to fully embrace women in construction and make them feel that they are a part of the team. I believe the industry has yet to change the culture to make it comfortable for women to truly be a part of the workforce. As an example, why do we still use the title of Foreman. There are/were women that held this position.
Personally speaking, as a female and as a Native American (Dine’) woman, it is even more difficult to be in this industry. First there is winning the respect of others as a female, then as a minority. Secondly, there is always the expectation to perform twice as hard in the field in order to win the respect of my male coworkers and others.
Why do you think the percentage of men to women within the industry is so low?
I believe that this are a lot of reasons why the percentage of women in the industry and there is no single reason for the low number. Here are some of the points I believe are the reasons why:
I believe that it will take the commitment from individuals, companies, schools and governments to truly balance the workforce for the better.
What can Comfort Systems USA Southwest do to attract women into the industry?
I believe that as a company, there first needs to be a gap analysis on those things that can realistically be changed versus those things that would be nice to change. Here are some points that may be considered:
Any words of wisdom or advice for women who are thinking about joining the industry, or for those who are new to it?
I would advise women that are interested in joining the industry to: