Female Forces: Guidance, Direction and Lessons from Women in the Industry

When I look back on my career, it’s hard to believe I’ve already been in this industry for 31 years! When I started, there were certainly not as many women in the industry as today, particularly on jobsites. Often, I was among only one or two women out on site. It seemed hard to carve out a space and convince others that you knew what you were talking about.

Despite the scarcity of women in the industry early on, I’ve had the good fortune to work with many strong, influential women. Their wisdom helped shape my attitude and perceptions.

Starting Strong

Pam Elward gave me my start when she hired me at 16 to answer phones and open mail at Elward Construction for one day each week in the summer. When that job ended, I needed something to work through college. She convinced me I could work in the shop running vinyl for framing at Coors Field. I’ll admit I had my reservations about moving into a warehouse situation. It was intimidating, but I made some lifelong friends who were patient and helped me learn more about glazing. I’m grateful to Pam for her confidence in me when I didn’t have it myself. As they say, you’re not getting out once you dip your toe in the glazing industry.

Learning and Growing

I next experienced the force of Diana Davidson at A-1 Glass. Diana was a fair and benevolent boss with a touch of fire. Diana showed me that you can be strong and reasonable and that even an uncomfortable encounter (like a general counter shouting at you) can be met with a peaceful resolution. Sometimes you get more flies with honey than vinegar, even if you’re feeling salty.

Susan Durham of A-1 Glass was the queen of logic in all things. She taught me that “no” is a complete sentence and that it’s okay to say “no.” She also taught me that facts don’t care about your feelings. It’s easy to make a sound argument when you’re armed with facts.

Sue Stewart, also of A-1 Glass, was a fantastic mentor to me and a great example that you can enjoy work while still being a devoted mother and wife. There’s a time for everything you want to do if you make space in your life for those things.

Joanie Brown at 8G Solutions, is fearless. She shows extraordinary patience, even in the face of adversity. She has taught me a lot about project management, reminding me that everyone is just trying to do what is best for their company to achieve the best outcome.

Armed with these lessons, I’ve been able to navigate through this business more confidently. I attended a meeting recently and noticed the differences between where I started and how far I’ve come to now be considered equal.

Randi Walters is the project engineer with 8G Solutions in Denver.

To view the laid-in version of this article in our digital edition, CLICK HERE.