“She [BreAnna Faulkner] was really persistent about getting a job here,” said Gary Jordan, General Superintendent at Uretek. “She had mentioned that she was a diesel mechanic and we needed a diesel mechanic. So, I called her in for an interview. She seemed like a good fit, so I hired her.”
Jordan hired Faulkner in the summer of 2014 and hired Christina Pipes shortly after. Both women previously worked together on the oil pipeline a nd relocated to North Carolina.
Faulkner is from Elko, a gold mining community in Nevada, she started working in the mines when she was 18. Pipes’ family owned a roofing company and she started helping at age 16.
Both Faulkner’s and Pipes’ early exposure to traditionally male, labor intensive vocations seems to have influenced their preferences for careers in construction. “I don’t like being inside, it’s boring. My uncle and my daddy told me that girls don’t belong outside, so I proved to them that girls can do just what men can do,” said Pipes.
In 2013, 7.1 million Americans were employed in construction-related occupations, and a mere 2.6 percent were women. National Women in Construction Week, recognized March 1 through 7, aims to address the various challenges that may prevent women from pursuing careers in construction.
Faulkner and Pipes have a unique perspective compared to millions of women who would not otherwise consider a career in construction.
Why, in the 21st Century, have the numbers of women in the construction field remained in the two percent range? For many women, attitudes linger in the 18th Century about that type of work not suiting them, it does not help that construction recruiting efforts are typically not directed at women, and according to the National Women’s Law Center, sexual harassment and belittling are staples of the female experience on the job site.
“If the Superintendent feels like women don’t belong out there, then he won’t give you a chance,” said Faulkner. “I feel like as a women you do have to work harder than the men out there just to prove yourself but once you get past that and they can see that you can do the work, you’re fine.”
In their short time at Uretek Faulkner and Pipes have developed reputations as two of the hardest working field technicians in the company, proving, once again, that hard work and tenacity outweigh the shape of your sexual organs.