Kerry Sampson

In support of our valuable Women in Construction, we asked a few questions about their on-the-job experience.

Sheetmetal, Apprentice
Joined Unique Metal Works in 2018

How has COVID impacted work in your trade and on project sites?

COVID-19 has significantly impacted work affecting work slowing downs to daily procedures. It is hard working on jobs and maintaining the six-foot rule. Most jobs require two people when doing field installation. Every morning we take our temperature and fill out a contact trace report to maintain all employees’ health. Physical labor can be difficult while wearing a mask and safety glasses. It is hard to breathe, and glasses fog up, making it impossible to see.

Since we know the construction industry is primarily male-dominated, what top three aspects have affected you negatively and positively?

Working in a male-dominated industry has its ups and downs. A positive aspect is that I am earning equal wages. The downside is I must constantly push myself physically and mentally to prove that I can keep up with the men. Unfortunately, I am sometimes instructed to perform easy, brainless tasks while the rest of the men work as a team. They “don’t want me to hurt myself” or “break a nail.” This does not allow me to learn the trade 100%. However, there are times that I am treated as an equal and work right alongside men.

One of the most difficult aspects for me has been learning how to carry myself working alongside men. I learned the hard way that I am not one of the guys, never will be, and acting as such only opens the door for harassment. I have also learned how to earn others’ respect while carrying myself in a professional, approachable manner. It is okay to be ladylike in a male-dominated industry.

Are you currently involved with a support organization such as Women in the Trades or a local chapter of WIC – if so, have you found them helpful?

Having the support from groups like SMART Sisters and Lean in Circles has made this process much easier; they support and listen to one another 100%. This makes me feel less alone and helps me understand what is acceptable and not. And let us not forget the support from the women in office and project manager positions, as we are all in this together!