Do you know this old riddle? A man is badly hurt, and taken to the doctor. When he wakes up, he learns to his surprise that the surgeon who saved his life is his parent, but is not his dad. How can this be?
Once upon a time, the answer to the riddle wasn’t as obvious as it is to modern audiences. Obviously, the surgeon was the man’s mother. But at a time when almost no women were surgeons, the answer was much harder to come up with.
The construction industry today is as thickly populated by men as the medical industry was a generation ago. Despite the growing number of women in construction, women still make up only 9% of industry jobs.
Ambra Melendez is a welder and ironworker in NYC
When you think of ironworkers and electricians, pile drivers and pipe fitters, you probably don’t automatically envision women in hard hats, reflective vests, and steel-toed boots. But that is a problem a recent documentary intends to fix.
In “Hard Hatted Woman,” a feature-length film about women in construction trades, five construction workers who happen to be women share their personal stories. The documentary acknowledges the unique struggles women face, and honors the important work they do each day.
Many women who work in construction trades do it for the money and the benefits of union jobs. Others simply like working outside in the fresh air, and the satisfaction of working with their hands and building something tangible to be proud of.
None of them signed up for the outdated stereotypes and gender-specific challenges that face women on the job site due to long-standing lack of representation.
Lorien Barlow, director and producer of “Hard Hatted Woman” aims to change negative perceptions of women in construction by telling these stories. She hopes it will also aid in attracting the next generation of workers, women who may not yet realize how rewarding the career can be for them.
“Our goal is to invigorate a dialog around recruitment and retention of women in the construction industry,” she says, “and inspire bold and meaningful action to ensure job sites are safe and fair for all workers.”
Lorien Barlow, Director and Producer, “Hard Hatted Woman”
This is especially important to an industry that is struggling to meet demands for skilled labor. According to the results of an industry-wide study by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), 80 percent of construction firms report that they’re having a hard time filling hourly craft positions that make up the bulk of the industry’s workforce. If young girls don’t know that a fulfilling career in construction exists for them, how can we expect them to choose it?
“Hard Hatted Woman” cinematographer Autum Eakin shooting on location
Autodesk is proud to be a funding partner for “Hard Hatted Woman” and the initiative to shine a light on the women who choose to work in construction. Technology can be a powerful tool for tradeswomen to learn new skills and create new career paths for themselves within the industry.
“Industry partners like Autodesk are essential to helping us fulfill the mission of the film,” says Barlow.
We share Barlow’s passion for raising awareness of women in construction, for the work they do, and the incredible contributions they make. That’s why we provide and support programs and events that empower women in construction, support that ultimately leads to more efficient and collaborative ways of working across the industry.
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