A Day in the Life of a Woman in Construction -- 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.

NEW was founded in 1978, when less than 3 percent of engineers were women and less than 6 percent of architects were women. Today, those percentages are above 13 percent and 25 percent, respectively. The number of tradeswomen hasn't grown as fast. Nationwide less than one percent of carpenters were women in 1978 and by 2009 the percentage nationwide was still less than 2 percent. According to the New York Building Congress analysis, "Construction remains a male-dominated industry, with men accounting for 93 percent of all workers." However, in New York City, the number of women in construction is growing. Today, thanks to a unique partnership between NEW, labor unions, contractors, and government, 10 percent of the apprentices in the building and construction trades in New York City are women.

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.

Denise Doyle, D.C. 9 Painter, Recruitment Manager of Nontraditional Employment for Women (NEW), Recording Sec of Local 20 D.C. 9, Executive Board Council Delegate, Trustee - D.C. 9- Council Delegate

What was your first job in construction? Sanding walls

What is your current job? Recruitment Manager and Painting Instructor at Nontraditional Employment for Women

What job do you want in the future? I have honestly never thought about it, I love what I do now!

Are you in a union? What is the best part of being in a union? Yes, D.C. 9 Painters and Allied Trades Local 20. The best part of being in a union is being part of an organization that helps build New York.

Why did you choose construction? What led you to construction? I believe that construction chose me.

When did you realize you wanted to work in construction? When I was a first year apprentice I realized that I truly enjoyed my job.

Is there someone in particular in your life that led you to this career? My parents always told me that I can do whatever I wanted to do. And my husband is a Union carpenter.

Who inspires you? All the women in construction that paved the way before me.

What has been the most surprising part of being a woman working in construction? After earning respect, how great the guys were in teaching me their trade.

What is your favorite part of your career? Turning journey level.

What is your most memorable moment working in construction? 9/11/2001

What is your favorite project you have worked on? I have worked at the United Nations on two different occasions.

What is the biggest challenge of being a woman working in construction? Fitting in sometimes as the only woman on the crew.

What is the biggest change you have seen in the field since you started? There are more women now than when I started.

What advice would you give someone starting out? I would advise them that they need to earn respect and work hard every day.

What is your favorite tool? My 5-in-1

What is your favorite hard hat sticker? My D.C. 9 Local 20 Queens sticker.

What is your most valuable certification? What was the most challenging? My Labor Studies Degree from Empire State College that the union paid for. It was challenging to work and keep up with studies.

Are you a woman working in construction? Tell us "Who inspires you"?

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