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Women’s Work

By Aysha Ashley Househ

T

ransitioning from one workplace to another brings its challenges. So how difficult would it be for a woman to change careers and enter a male-dominated profession like construction?

Breyen “Bree” Adams is one of 10 women who recently graduated from a partnership between Houston-based construction company TDIndustries and United Way of Greater Houston. The tradeswomen program ran for 12 weeks, recruiting, training and introducing women to the construction industry as part of the company’s solution to build a foundation of skilled workers.

“Kids coming out of high school have more options than they used to and aren’t necessarily picking construction,” said Randee Herrin, TDIndustries Houston senior vice president of new construction. “There’s also an aging workforce that is retiring.”

With just 9 percent of tradeworkers being women, the company concluded that they would see a huge boost in their recruitment efforts by targeting female candidates.

“You don’t have to meet 90 percent of the criteria or qualifications for that job. We just need to understand your work ethic, that you have grit, that you care about your job and you have the willingness to learn,” said Herrin.

TDIndustries came upon the program after seeing the success United Way had previously with S&B Engineers and Constructors in which 20 women were hired and trained as pipefitters.

Adams said she was actively looking for a job through Workforce Solutions, which was also involved in the program, after five years as a fire-safety worker since her contract was ending. Once hired at TDIndustries, there were new challenges.

“It was a transition not only for us, but for [men] as well,” said Adams, who now works as a sheet metal apprentice.

Although there were bumps along the way, the program was successful and TDIndustries plans to extend it to other divisions in Texas and Arizona.