Reflecting on my Decade as a Woman in the Building Materials Industry

Posted on March 11, 2024

When I was thinking about starting my career in this industry, I knew nothing about it. I honestly thought this market involved a bunch of lumberjacks…true story! That’s obviously not the case (though I do laugh to myself that I wasn’t ALL wrong when I see a beard and a buffalo check) and I’m still surprised to this day by the plethora of materials, range of customers and associations, and overall size of the industry.

I have worked my way from junior recruiter to President here at SnapDragon Associates, LLC and have had thousands of conversations with top leaders and organizations in the industry. I can honestly say that the best part of my job is building these relationships. The people I speak with on a daily basis give me hope for the trajectory of women in the industry, but there’s still a lot of work to be done.

The Importance of Representation

There are many benefits to women being better represented in our industry. Having a diverse presence within any industry is an advantage. As Meera S., HR Director at Weston Wood Solutions, told me recently, “Recognizing the value of diversity, companies that embrace inclusivity are not only poised to adapt and thrive amidst evolving times but also stand out as innovative and agile entities.”

Including the full spectrum of the labor market provides access to a larger talent pool. If we can expand the pool of professionals, outside of just being male-dominant, that will lead to more opportunities for both the individuals and the organizations within this industry – especially as the industry is poised to see a huge wave of generational turnover. As Beth Drummond-Monts De Oca, Executive Vice President, Worldwide Door Components Inc. said recently, “Women have a very different perspective on the next generation coming up.  We appreciate, value and respect the younger men AND women differently who will someday run the show.”

Not to mention, increasing opportunities for women can lead to more advancement opportunities as well as higher financial independence and stability for this demographic.

Signs of Change

Simply acknowledging the presence of and need for women in traditionally male-dominated industries marks a significant advancement. Providing women with opportunities and platforms to enter these growing sectors is massive. As Meera told me, “Ultimately, the best-qualified person should be hired for the role, regardless of gender, but actively seeking ways to reach the potential market of women who are available for vacant roles will also serve to increase representation.”

This is something I’ve gotten to see evolve before my very eyes. There’s been a noticeable trend of companies actively seeking female candidates for various positions, an approach that was beyond uncommon a decade ago. This shift in hiring practices reflects the growing business mindset of gender inclusivity and progress. Witnessing these changes is not only encouraging but also inspiring to be part of!

Embracing Support and Engagement

Throughout my career, I’ve been fortunate to have several female advocates and role models. However, I must emphasize the numerous men who have consistently supported, promoted, and mentored me over my decade-long tenure in this industry. Be courageous, be bold and get engaged within your professional communities. Remaining silent or feeling misrepresented serves no purpose; it’s essential to take a proactive approach and put yourself out there. You’ll be well-received; I can promise you that.

My suggestion to those contemplating this niche is to reflect on what they value in their careers. This industry offers stability and consistency, and it’s always improving and evolving. It’s lucrative, and people care about their relationships. It’s a wonderful group of professionals; no matter what area of the country you’re from, it feels like a supportive family within this community.

If you work in the Building Materials industry, you always have a place where you belong whether you’re a woman or a man! If you’re looking to take the next step in your Building Materials career, be sure to follow me on LinkedIn and give me a call if you’d like to discuss opportunities in your area: 603-323-0957.