Currently women make up only about 0.5 percent of the roofing industry in America, and in Canada roughly 3 percent compared to men. As time progresses women continue to become more involved in the roofing industry as CEO’s, marketing directors, and other leading roles. Women have been pursuing roofing sales, distributing, manufacturing, and even on roofs. When speaking with business owners of roofing companies they express that people may think women in the construction field is out of the ordinary, but in reality they are some of the most qualified applicants.
Many organizations have dedicated their time to expanding roles that women play in roofing and construction. One example of this is the NWIR (National women in roofing), who are an American based volunteer organization that launched in 2016 at the IRE (International roofing expo). Although they were only founded a short time ago they have gained over 1,100 members who are all dedicated to empowering and advancing women in the roofing industry. Companies such as IKO sponsor and support the NWIR to advocate for females to join their organizations, they are excited to educate women within the field and also help recruit.
“I didn’t have any roofing experience when I first joined the industry more than 20 years ago, so I relied heavily on my mentors and educated myself through meeting with our manufacturing, sales, research groups and distributors to determine what contractors needed and wanted,” said Perkins. “But now, an organization like NWIR has built-in mentorship and educational opportunities that help new female professionals entering the industry, as well as seasoned pros.”
Women Owned Roofing Companies
Women like Alicia McMahon have been in the roofing industry for more than 10 years doing marketing, says she continues to see women step into leadership and even ownership positions. “When I first got into the roofing business, women were typically seen working in roles like accounting, marketing and administration,” McMahon said. “But now, women are branching out of corporate roles and making strides not only as laborers, but as business owners, too.”
Successful women owned roofing companies continue to pop up like Ardmor Construction, based in Minnesota. The owner Sarah Ahrendt was once a nurse but hated the hours that she had to put in and felt burnt out. She had a boyfriend in the construction field and was intrigued by his work, so she picked up a job as a roofing sales person. She admits that at first some customers weren’t sure about her, if she was only working in this role to support her boyfriend or if she was actually dedicated to the job. However she proved them wrong and quickly gained respect backed up by her work ethic and vast knowledge. She acknowledges that some women do face discouraging work environments when pursuing a roofing career, but she was lucky in that her boss fully supported her in her endeavors. “He saw people as people, not as male or female. He saw the value that I brought. I was very fortunate in that,” Ahrendt said.
She always had a strong desire to help others which is how she ended up in the nursing field, she compares this to her now role in the roofing industry because taking care of people’s roofs also helps protect them and their home, which is most valuable. “I was happy to start in a field where there is so much potential to make a difference,” Ahrendt explained. Shortly after an opportunity came up to get her hands dirty and she jumped on. She began working on rooftops, organizing the laborers, and even operating the equipment. She enjoyed learning the technical details and as new opportunities presented themselves she kept growing.
Ahrendt dabbled in finances and marketing, then was offered a full time position as manager at another roofing company. She soon after developed her own ideas about running a roofing company, and after putting them into practice Ardmor Construction was born. Her company being only a year old has already brought in 1.5 million in total sales. Ahrendt says she has spoken with women who have been interested in the roofing industry and other parts of construction but get discouraged. Her advice to them was “It’s not nearly as hard as you might think it’s going to be. As a woman in roofing, if you really know your stuff, you’ll impress the customer quickly.”“Don’t give up just because someone tells you no,” she added. “If that’s what you really want to do and you’re passionate about it, you’ll succeed.”
Professional Women in Roofing
Women have been involved in every aspect of the roofing industry, from the office up to the roofs. An example of leading women making a difference from every corner is this amazing group that calls themselves “The Women Roofers.”
The Women Roofers is a group of volunteers that started out repairing a roof for someone who couldn’t afford to hire a professional. After the completion of the first roof Kernodle and Herrick began the idea of gathering a larger group of women to help the church by repairing and replacing roofs of people in need. Working with the Rutherford Housing Partnership the woman group has been roofing since 2002. The group recently got involved with helping out at the Troop House at Camp Ginger Cascades for the girl scouts. They began their work on a Saturday morning and fished by noon! The women spent the rest of the day enjoying camp. “If a woman wants to go into something, there is no reason she shouldn’t consider it if she chooses!”