'I Was Con Edison's First Female Line Constructor' -- 20 Questions for Women in Construction

By Amy A. Peterson

Hard Hats. Strong Women. Building the Future.

Nontraditional Employment for Women (NEW) prepares, trains and places women in careers in the skilled construction, utility and maintenance trades, helping women achieve economic independence and a secure future. NEW graduates are working as carpenters, electricians, ironworkers, laborers, plumbers and operating engineers.

Follow our blog to hear the stories of women working in construction in New York City at every level as we ask 20 questions to women working in construction.

Monica Harwell, Line Constructor, Con Edison

What was your first job in construction? General Utility Worker

What is your current job? Scheduler

What job do you want in the future? CEO

Are you in a union? What is the best part of being in a union? Initially with Local 3. The best part about being in a union is that money is dollar-for-dollar equal pay for a woman as a man.

Why did you choose construction? What led you to construction? I read an article about women in nontraditional fields, and my field of choice had no women.

When did you realize you wanted to work in construction? I was working at a dead-end job.

Is there someone in particular in your life that led you to this career? My own desire to work in the field.

Who inspires you? Knowing there's a woman out there making her mark somewhere in the Construction industry.

What has been the most surprising part of being a woman working in construction? Men are still surprised that we can do the work too.

What is your favorite part of your career? 21 years and I still get a surprise reaction when I say, "I climb poles."

What is your most memorable moment working in construction? Two things. One, the first time I made it to the top of a 45' pole and painted my fingernails. Two, the reference "Linemen" had to be removed from all training materials because a woman (myself) had earned her high voltage title. The new title is Line Constructor.

What is the best company you have worked for? My current employer, Con Edison.

What is your favorite project you have worked on? Running a crew of men who couldn't believe I was a Line Constructor.

What is the biggest challenge of being a woman working in construction? Finding a place to go to the bathroom.

What is the biggest change you have seen in the field since you started? Safety equipment had to be ordered in sizes to accommodate a woman's smaller hands.

What advice would you give someone starting out? Don't give up.

What is your favorite tool? My hydraulic drill.

What is your favorite hard hat sticker? You've Come A Long Way Baby!

What is your most valuable certification? What was the most challenging? My most valuable certification is High Voltage Line Constructor. My 4KV line title was the most challenging.

What would surprise us about you? I was Con Edison's first female Line Constructor.

Are you a woman working in construction? Tell us "What advice would you give someone starting out"?

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