Women in Construction Week is underway, highlighting women as a viable component of the construction industry. To celebrate, USGNN™ is spotlighting three women glaziers over three days. Part one focused on Madison Hull. For day two, USGNN spoke to Tureka Dixon, a glazier with the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) District Council 21 and Glaziers Local 252 in the Philadelphia area. She has been in the industry since May 2011.
Dixon was doing payroll for a construction company when she saw how much those on the jobsite were making. She found out that the glaziers were accepting applications, applied and was accepted. Dixon loves the variety each day brings, but her favorite part of the job is driving by a building she’s worked on and seeing the finished product. Her favorite project is the Dilworth Park subway entrance in Philadelphia, which she describes as a piece of sloped artwork.
“I can say that since I started almost ten years ago there are more women … Fortunately I’ve never had to deal with too much pushback from guys but I know instances where it’s happened to other women,” says Dixon, who adds that the union has implemented different initiatives to encourage reporting and training to address issues that may arise.
She says that a major barrier to recruiting more women to the glazing industry is that they don’t see the women who are already a part of it.
“If there’s more advertising so that women could see us, I think that would make a difference,” says Dixon.
Another major challenge for women in the construction industry is childcare. Dixon believes that if a program was implemented offering a stipend or connection with a childcare service then it would be much easier for women to be a part of the industry.
“We have jobs in all areas and if it wasn’t for my mother coming to my house at 5 o’clock in the morning, I don’t know if I could stay in the industry,” she says. “There aren’t a lot of 24-hour daycare centers, and while we do make a decent wage, it can be costly to hire a nanny.”
She explains that it could be beneficial to recruit young women right out of high school.
“It’s hard starting out as an apprentice with an apprentice wage to be able to afford adequate childcare. I’ve talked to women who have had to pump at work. That’s the hard part with kids,” she said. “If we can get women early, we could get the ball rolling and that could make a huge difference.”
Her advice for women just entering the industry is to never lose focus of their goals.
“There are days where you may look at a project and go ‘Oh my goodness,’ but you can deal with those challenges and push past it,” she Dixon. “You’ll find that though it may look hard, it’s not as hard as you make think. Don’t let anyone ever discourage you or put you down. Just put in your eight hours, get the work done and make it home safely. Always be safe.”
Women in Construction Week runs through March 13, 2021. Click here to read part three of this series.