Since stumbling into the construction industry through chance, Steph Cooper has managed to take her career from strength to strength. In her blog, Steph insightfully talks about her experience of being a female in construction, how it has got better in recent years and how it still has a long way to go in some respects.
Being a female in construction
I pretty much fell into the builders' merchant industry by chance, not necessarily choice initially, so the feeling of male dominance was quite often overwhelming in the early years, but I now feel my time served, has earned me respect from the industry as a whole.
It’s quite sad really I suppose, but I struggled seeing women in my life that were trapped in unhappy situations because they didn’t work or contribute to the household income. I always wanted to be certain I had my independence and this has always been my motivator, careers aren’t just for men and there is nothing to be ashamed of wanting to be successful and independent as a woman in any industry.
I just want to be recognised for my capabilities, me being a woman should have no bearing on the way they perceive me in this job role.
It shouldn’t be an issue of gender or race, it should be about inclusion and diversity. Encouraging male counterparts to engage in the positivity of having women in the workplace and enjoy and embrace the differing opinions. Having had the luxury of a female CEO I feel we have already made progress in demonstrating the capabilities and advantages of having female leadership in our business. We should be empowering women to feel confident and competent enough to want to take that next step in their career progression.
There is still a prevalent bias at having females as Branch Managers in this industry, granted there has been a significant improvement in the number of females in this role over the past few years, but it does still amuse me when I hear the surprise of some customers when they realise the manager is a lady!
I have to enjoy and believe in what I am doing and who I am doing it for. Engaging with my employers and colleagues has always provided me with the ultimate job satisfaction. I never stop learning, every day I encounter something new and it’s the variety and complexity of this position that keeps me intrigued and motivated to achieve more.
Kate Tinsley has been a massive inspiration for me since joining this business some 10 months ago, she has a a truly altruistic nature that is quite refreshing to see in a leadership role in this industry.
My advice to young women starting their careers
People deal with people. Customers, Suppliers, employees, if you engage with them wholeheartedly, they will pay you back with interest. Engaged people deliver results, it’s as simple as that! Treat people you encounter in your life how you, yourself, want to be treated. No one deserves respect, it has to be earned. I come to work every day never taking for granted my position in the business and strive to keep the welfare of my colleagues as my high priority.
Don’t feel you have to accept any negativity or discrimination
Never feel inferior or tell yourself “I can’t do this”
Seek out other female leaders in your workplace for support
Steph cited Kate Tinsley as an inspiration, if you want to know more about why Kate is so inspiring make sure to check out her posts here.