As part of Women’s History Month, USGNN™ is highlighting some of the great women in the industry and their thoughts on why women are a valuable asset to the industry, as well as how to get more women involved.
AAMA marketing and communications director Angela Dickson joined the industry 15 years ago after a move to Chicago, when she was looking to work with a non-profit organization.
“Truth be told, I didn’t fully understand how a trade association worked at the time, but I appreciated that everyone would be working toward a common good,” she says. “That concept appealed to me.”
Dickson stresses the importance of finding a work/life balance and explains how she overcame that challenge.
“When I started with AAMA in 2004, I was engaged. Now, I’m not just a wife but also a mom to 7-year-old Isaiah and 9-year-old Campbell. Finding a work/life balance is incredibly important. I’ve taken inspiration from other women within the association, whether it was a member who briefly left a meeting to talk her daughter through a school project or a staff member who encouraged me to not feel guilty about being away from my kids while traveling,” she says. “I’ve shared my experiences as well. In deciding not to leave my children for the first year of each of their lives, I’m an expert on traveling with babies and toddlers. The trick? The three S’s – stickers, snacks, sleep (repeat)…and befriend fellow passengers. That work/life balance can be tough to maintain, but it’s made both sides more rewarding.”
She says it’s been exciting to see so many women participating and leading the industry into the future.
“The ratio has increased dramatically during my tenure at AAMA, especially in the last five years, and I hope we continue to see that trend within all facets of our industry and our country,” says Dickson. “Women bring a different perspective to the table that benefits the entire project. Diversity in all aspects can only been seen as a positive.”
For women considering a career in the glass industry, she says they won’t find a better group of people anywhere.
“These are the brightest, kindest, funniest and most down to earth people I’ve ever worked with. They are generous with both their time and knowledge and are willing to share their expertise (and stories of their kids and grandkids) with anyone who will listen,” she says.
Dickson also has advice for companies looking to bring more women into the industry.
“To really believe you can achieve something, it’s inspiring to see someone who looks like you who’s already living your dream. By hiring more women in positions of leadership, younger professional women will see that they can grow and move up as well,” she says. “By making a woman’s voice heard in a meeting, your products and projects are improved. Women have a lot to share with this industry, given the opportunity.”
While Sofia Bower, director of operations at Protectapeel, has only been in the glass industry for four years, she’s been in and out of the construction industry for the past 11 years. She says the opportunity was a good fit and she understood the industry’s language and needs.
Bower says if she could give her younger self advice, it would be to be brave.
“Being in an industry that is predominantly male was intimidating initially, so I would tell myself to not see that as a barrier. I would tell myself to be brave! My advice to women joining the industry is to soak up information. Do not be afraid to ask questions; become the expert in the room. Knowledge is power,” she says.
Bower believes that women have a unique perspective to offer the industry.
“We need to celebrate our differences and what we can bring to the table. The part of the industry I am in is about connecting, sharing ideas, listening and providing solutions. I love working with people, so this industry is perfect for me,” she says. “I also get very excited about Protectapeel’s products and how they contribute to the construction process. Women who appreciate building positive relationships and making a difference are a great fit for the industry.”
The barriers to access for women have come a long way in the past few decades, according to Bower, but there’s still more work to do.
“We need powerful role models in the glass industry for young women to see as they make career decisions. When we open our board rooms, executive offices and construction sites to show the many capable, distinguished women leading this industry, young women have examples of female industry leaders,” she says. “Women need to see that not only is the glass industry okay for women to enter, it is a place they can excel because of the skill set they can bring.”
Stay tuned to USGNN™ throughout the week for more spotlights on women in the history in celebration of Women’s History Month.