What is it like to work with female contractors?
The contractor industry is dominated by men. In fact, women account for just 9% of the overall industry. There is a stereotypical image of what a contractor is supposed to look like, and in a male-dominated environment, it can be challenging to find a female face. However, a good man can be hard to find – so why not hire a woman?
As the CEO of Historic Home Restorations, I have worked with a multitude of male contractors. I have had successful professional relationships with many of them, but my best experience was with a female contractor I hired for a project in Austin, Texas.
Women approach projects, like many other things, differently than men. When I scheduled my first meeting with what would become my female contractor, I immediately noticed how well she listened to my concerns. She didn’t try to dominate the conversation or lead me into her idea. Of course, she voiced recommendations and concerns, but there was a clear understanding that I had a vision that would be pursued.
When it came time to put the project into motion, I was pleasantly surprised to find that she had an intuition, unlike any other contractor I had hired on my dozens of other projects. She had an understanding of utility and practicality. For example, she understood how kitchen cabinets would be utilised, and sized and positioned them according to use.
When the home was complete, I was billed accurately. My contractor charged me for the work that she had finished and did not introduce any last minute or non-previously discussed charges – this was refreshing and renewed my trust in contractors.
Following my project in Austin, I have only come across one other female contractor. Although she was not the project lead, her presence was certainly felt.
Nationally there are dozens of organisations, like the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) and the Association of Women Contractors (AWC), that assist in training women for jobs and connecting them with prospective employers. There should not be gender limitations on industries, and detail-oriented personalities should always be considered for projects of this nature.
Carmen Schaye is the President and CEO of Historic Home Restorations. Carmen is the guiding force of a unique company that restores historic homes throughout the United States to their original grandeur.