Recent issues of Roofing Contractor continue to explore the expanding role of women working in the roofing industry, and particularly the good work being done by the leading organization for women in roofing, National Women in Roofing (NWiR).
Roofing Contractor is a Founding Sponsor of NWiR and my wife, Micki, and I have sponsored the Atlanta council of NWiR. The organization offers women working in roofing the opportunity to network together, mentor each other, share educational opportunities, and work together on community service projects. It is refreshing to see women entering the profession and taking on more prominent roles.
The industry needs women in virtually every role because it is about time and there simply are not enough men. Men are aging out of the trade and not being replaced. Why have so few women worked in roofing all these years? The work of installing roofs, where many roofing contractors get their start, is hot, hard, and dangerous work. But in the modern era, it is much less so. Most work is done by crews and it takes strong leadership to bring a woman into the macho culture which defines most roofing crews. The culture shift may be the highest hurdle to overcome in the work of bringing women in as full partners in the roofing industry. No matter how difficult, it needs to happen. And I believe that women must be encouraged to join the work at every level, including on the roof. If physical accommodations must be made, they should be made.
This investment will pay dividends in the future. Despite the physical and cultural challenges, women are up to the task. We just need to bring the right ones into the fold. When I think of the kind of women I would want in roofing I do not have to go very far. I work for a woman; Roofing Contractor Publisher Jill Bloom. I have worked with many smart, strong women over the course of my career. But if I were to choose the ideal woman for my team it would be one for whom I have a great deal of respect. It would be a woman of strong moral character. It would be a woman accustomed to hard work. Focused and results oriented. Smart. She would even be witty and fun; someone you would love to meet after work for a beer. She would be fearless. She would be just like… my mom.
My mother, Anne Kirby Damato, raised nine children with my father while managing to quietly build a life of her own. That came in handy when she was widowed in her middle fifties. Her daily actions formed the basis for my own work ethic. That proved to be a good thing for me because I was never the smartest or fastest. She taught me how to succeed with little more than grit. If you are a woman reading this column, I urge you to join NWiR today. If you are a man, I urge you to share this with the women you work with and encourage them to join. You may join as well. You don’t have to be a woman to support this vital organization. As NWiR prospers, the industry will be better for all of us.