Women may make up only eight per cent of the construction workforce in the United States by one recent estimate, but a small number are breaking through traditional barriers, forging outstanding careers and rising to the top.
Sheryl Meyers, an operations manager with US surface preparation and concrete polishing equipment Kut-Rite, is one such woman.
Through a ‘can-do’ attitude and an uncompromising desire to please customers, Meyers has held a number of positions throughout her nine years at the company, was elevated to operations manager in 2011 and has been instrumental in transforming Kut-Rite to a significant player in the concrete polishing and scarifying market.
Last week, she was declared the winner of the third annual Woman of Distinction award granted by the Woman in Concrete Alliance.
Meyers’ peers gladly sing her praises.
“I have had the privilege to work with Sheryl for several years now and one of the more impressive skills she has is the way she can communicate with the predominantly male industry,” says Kut-Rite technical sales director Bryon Bruington. “Sometimes dealing with the customer in this industry can be tough, especially with the rapid schedules that have been placed on the contractors. Sheryl has the calming ability to talk the customer through the situation and yet have the fierce passion to protect herself and KutRite at any given time.”
Rick Sollars, a partner at the firm agrees, adding that Meyers had been challenged with new product launches, product branding and complete customer satisfaction, and had consistently exceeded expectations.
“Since beginning her career with Kut-Rite in the summer of 2004, two words have summarized everything about Sheryl and those two words are world class,” he says.
Despite having a lot to offer, women make up only a small part of the construction workforce in most developed countries. In Australia, ABS statistics indicate that females accounted for only 7.1 per cent of hours worked by full-time employees in the three months to November 2012.
In England, a 2010 paper from researchers at the Research Institute for the Built and Human Environment cited several barriers to entry and advancement of women in the industry, including a macho industry culture, male-dominated training courses, discriminatory hiring practices, family commitments and negative perceptions about the industry on the part of women as well as those on the part of men about construction related tasks needing ‘muscle’.
Now in its third year, the Woman of Distinction award celebrates the role of women in the concrete construction industry.
WICA co-founder Kari Moosman says women like Meyers are forging a way for others to follow.