It’s no secret that home performance is a male-dominated industry. Attend any industry conference and you’ll quickly see that women are vastly outnumbered. That being said, there are still women in the industry—and those women certainly hold their own. As the assistant editor for Home Energy magazine, I too can claim to be a woman in home performance. Yes, a lot of my experience comes from being on the sidelines, but I do make it a point to visit job sites occasionally and see actual installation work being done.
Nearly two years ago, I attended a regional ACI event in Sacramento and sat in a room where the Women in Home Performance initiative was in its infancy. The leaders of the discussion asked the women, and men, in the room why they had decided to attend a meeting about women in home performance. The answers given weren’t surprising; they included to find support, to make sure women have a place at the table, to network, to receive nurturing, and to share stories.
In my opinion, it’s the storytelling among women in our industry that harnesses the most power to encourage and support us. The more we share with one another, the more we can learn from one another, and the better we can all become at what we do.
With that in mind, I set out to discover what the most common gender-specific obstacles to jobs in home performance were by asking women to describe the biggest obstacles they have faced since they entered the field.
Women and men: What gender-specific obstacles have you seen or experienced in your home performance careers?
This forum question is an excerpt from a recent Home Energy magazine article, “Let’s Talk Gender: What Women Bring to Home Performance” by Macie Melendez. You can read the article in full, with a subscription, on HomeEnergy.org.
ACI has a webpage for their Women in Home Performance initiative: http://www.affordablecomfort.org/women
I recently was working on a project, dominated by men, in which one woman was a contributor. Now, I'm not privy to all the details, but at some point, I noticed that the email string no longer included her. I brought this up casually by email, and there was basically no response. Now this could have nothing to do with gender bias or such issues, but it certainly set off alarms in my head. As a father to an amazing daughter and husband to a terrifically talented and intelligent wife, I want them to be at the table in all fields. As Tom pointed out, I think one of the biggest issues is unexamined privilege on the part of most men, who do not understand the issues that women often face, particularly when outnumbered and bullied.
Another thing that bothered me recently was at the ACI 2014 National Home performance conference in Detroit. In the large session where the merits of 62.2 were being debated, one of the panel (I won't mention who) began with a sexist joke, which drew many guffaws from the audience. Not only do I wish these "jokes" weren't being made, I also wish that we were not reinforcing them with raucous laughter. I know for a fact that one of my women friends in home performance, both expected a sexually inappropriate joke from this guy and was, of course, offended.
Ally in Home Performance