Working woman


I work in an industry that was once the domain of men (well all used to be like that, but mine more recently). In the building industry, women are still not that prevalent…and I wonder why?

What happened to all those girls I studied with at varsity? All those girls that were busy studying architecture, engineering and quantity surveying? Where are you? The were no girls in the construction management…and I am yet to meet a female construction manager.

I worked in an office where there were more women than men, but I still find myself often, the only female sitting in a site meeting, and I do the minutes because I am running the meeting and the project, not because I am the typist or secretary.

I have left the corporate world of building for a more laid back job, but I am still here. I do not do site meetings on the same level I used to but I am still here.

I know that in the last office I worked in, I earned less than my male counterparts who had less work experience than I did (which is one of the reasons I left).

Do we as women not fight hard enough for our salaries, do we expect less of ourselves?

I know the view in the previous office was that women were going to have babies and leave so there was no point in investing the women. Once they had babies, they were never the same.

I agree, once we have babies we are not the same. We are better. We are mothers with a deeper insight into the world. We can manage time more efficiently because we know we have other things to do. We do not work much office overtime, but that is because we manage to finish out work during office hours, because we know we have other things to do at home. It is not because we are less dedicated to our jobs.

As a family we decided it was time for Hubby to chase his career and I was done trying to climb up anymore ladders. I wanted to do commercial work and as a lone me, there was not much chance of me getting that commercial work. So I gave that up to work in a small office which still has opportunities. I still love my work and I am still living my dream. I actually earn more in the smaller office than I did in the corporate office and I work less hours.

There are places out there that respect mothers and the fact that they have other things going on. They understand children and the pull they have on us. However, I find those offices are rare to find.

Breastfeeding is not catered for, in most places. Mothers have to express in a toilet most times. I was lucky that I stuck to my guns and I expressed in the boardroom and used the microwave to sterilize and the fridge to store breast milk.

Where are you women of the building industry? I am very sure everyone did not have babies and leave. All my friends are still practicing.

10 responses »

  1. Somebody asked me this morning why I don’t look for another job and my answer wad that they acknowledge that I’m a mom first and that is so important.

    I do think a lot of woman give up on their careers when they have children.

    • I think women tend to give up a career because they are far too torn between a family and a work environment that does not accommodate them. Being a Mom will always win.

  2. I hear you. I’m in the motor industry, also not crazy filled with women. Sure, we have an accountant and debtors clerk who are ladies, but I’m involved with the parts side of things. Also a fair share of other admin work. The lines are so blurred at my place as to who does what exactly and I seem to have bought over a lot of stuff I used to do when I was the receptionist here. Things that no one else seems able to do and those which have bugger all to do with me in Purchasing.
    Women ARE never the same after babies, I agree. I used to work until I dropped, felt nothing of coming in at 7am and leaving at 6pm. Nowadays I’m out of here like a shot because family is more important and work can wait where my son in involved. Fortunately I have a very accommodating boss who never has a problem if I have to shoot out during the day. He understands that there are certain things that cannot be done after hours
    Hugs MC, I hope HB is doing well?

    • Hi Helen, I too used to work all sorts of silly hours, until Honeybear came. It is good to find a boss that can understand how families work.
      Honeybear is well and as feisty (read a trial to his parents, lol) as ever

    • Yippee! I found one. I actually know the work you do (sorry your name and email come up in your comments and I know your company name since I too work in Pretoria.) It is good to know that at least one woman (with 3 kids) is the boss…I love commercial architecture but I am tired of working for someone who does not appreciate my skills. You should advertise yourself more to give the young ones inspiration.

  3. I’m not in the building industry but I am an engineer … I got a degree in chemical engineering but I think I’m probably more a metallurgist now since I’ve been working in pyrometallurgical R&D for the last 13 years. There are lots of women where I work (scientists and geologists and engineers etc etc) and my manager is a woman (though she doesn’t have kids). I think in my field I am lucky to work in a major city and not at some mine or plant out in the bundus … maybe that’s where alot of the women went??? Out to the bundus to work?? 🙂

    While they do not offer reduced working hours here, they are pretty flexible and I have never had an issue with leaving cos one of the kids is sick or with coming in late because I have to take one of them for vaccinations etc.

    A woman’s priorities change dramatically once she has kids … I was very open about that with my boss and she understands that. I am also open about wanting to work fewer hours but our CEO is currently very ANTI that notion so there isn’t anything she can do about it. So until then my boss is happy for me to put in leave for any hours that I’m short in a month (since that’s company policy and since I’m usually short on my hours) as long as I deliver on my deadlines, get my projects done etc. (which I still manage to do even though I’m short on my hours)
    But she knows my family comes first … always …

    • You are right: all the the geologists,chemical engineer’s and metallurgists who I know all work in the bundus (and they are all women).
      Not an option to change your hours? I used to work 7-4pm in order to get home a little earlier.

  4. Had to recruit for the building industry at a stage and you’re right I barely received any CV’s from ladies – maybe a QS or two, an estimator if I remember correctly and then just Site administrators – never seen a female contract or site manager… strange.

    • I think women are not given that chance to do those jobs, so they do not have the know how to do them. Site managers are supposed to be tough instead of managers and I thing that is why women are not in those jobs.

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