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Time to Embrace Women


Welcome to “Onsite,” a fresh perspective brought to you by contributing writer Matt Ohley, general superintendent at Ajax Paving Industries, Tampa Division. In this column, Ohley cuts through the noise and delves into the challenges encountered by those shaping our world through construction. Ohley offers a unique perspective, amplifying the voices of those who experience the daily pulse of life on the job site.

Onsite is our commitment to breaking down the barriers and misconceptions that shroud the construction profession. Ohley aims to initiate open and honest conversations, from job insecurity to the transient nature of projects, physical strain and often-overlooked mental health struggles. 

In this piece, Ohley chats with Jessie Moffitt, resource coordinator for FairWind.

This is the second iteration of this article. I tell you that to tell you this — Jessie is the real deal.

After the first draft of this article was shared with her, she asked if we could talk again. When we spoke, I received a bit of an education on how to be a better ally to women in blue-collar work, and my appreciation for who Jessie is and how she desires to show up in the world grew.

She wanted to highlight the positive aspects of being a woman in the trade, and I was happy to oblige.

When our interview began, she jumped right in before I could even ask a question.

Moffitt: I’ve been thinking about this and there’s at least one bullet point I’d like to highlight.

Ohley: Go for it!

Moffitt: One of the messages I really want to get out there is there are not enough allies for women out there in the trades — like men, helping us out …  and the way they can do that is really simple: Men who want to be an ally can practice acknowledging a woman’s accomplishments in front of other men.

Ohley: I like that, and it does seem pretty simple.

Moffitt: Yeah, it’s just positive reinforcement, and it goes a long way; just acknowledging their accomplishments, even the little ones, goes a long way in changing the way we’re viewed in the workforce.

Ohley: So … and it sounds like this goes without saying, but you feel you're treated differently as a woman?

Moffitt: 100%. And you should see some of the women out here … they’re KILLING IT! These women are gorgeous! They put on makeup, look amazing, get greasy and get stuff done. They’re great technicians!

Ohley: So, if I’m hearing you right, you’re saying that a woman doesn’t have to be masculine to do skilled labor? They can show up just like they are and be just as good as the men, if not better, at the job?

Moffitt: Exactly. I have dresses and stuff in my closet, and I wear them when the situation calls for it. I’m not masculine, but before I moved into management, I was a damn good tech.

I’m reminded of a research study I read recently that talked about women being better leaders. Jessie is now in a position of leadership in her company, and I have no doubt she’s doing a fantastic job.

What is it that often makes men think they are superior to women in the trades, I wonder?  

I have worked with women concrete finishers, rodbusters, traffic control foreman and project superintendents, to name a few. As a matter of fact, I am presently working with the best roadway project superintendent I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with: Dana, a female.

What will it take for those in blue-collar work to accept that women can do as good of a job, and sometimes even better, than men can?

When will the industry embrace women? And how can we men better support them?

It would seem like it should, and needs to, in a hurry. I mean, the labor shortage isn’t a secret.  


Article written by Matt Ohley

Catalyst Communication

Contractors Hot Line is part of the Catalyst Communications Network publication family.