Sunday, July 12, 2020
March 18, 2019

5 women, 5 questions on working in the construction industry



As blogged on, early March brought International Women’s Day and all the requisite hashtags and headlines. It was a time to reflect on how far women have come, and how much farther they have to go.

Women have been gaining ground in many male-dominated industries, including real estate, architecture and design. But the building side of the industry hasn’t seen the same interest from female candidates — an issue the Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON) has been addressing in its public awareness initiatives.

Toronto Storeys teamed up with RESCON to chat with five women in construction about their work — the secret perks, the great pay, and the pride of building this city.

Julia Zahreddine is a site supervisor at Bridgecon Construction.

What does your role entail?

As a site supervisor at Bridgecon Construction, my role is to oversee a project onsite and that includes doing paperwork, doing permits, communicating with the owners and subcontractors, as well as making sure that everything is done as per the specifications.

But the most important role is [overseeing] the safety of everyone onsite. That includes your own workers, any subcontractors and any visitors. To ensure safety, you do hazard assessments before mobilizing the site, and then you do daily safety talks with all the workers — to make sure everyone knows what the tasks are, how to avoid any hazards, how to prevent them and how to limit them.

Has it ever bothered you that there aren’t more women in construction? Why or why not?

I wouldn’t say it bothers me. I want women to choose whatever career they’d like, but I’d want them to know that working in construction is an option. Although it’s male-dominated, there’s a lot of room for women to work here.

I want women to think of this as a career path when they’re younger and that this is something they can do, and they’re welcome to do. It’s great for women and I’d love to see more women on site.

What personal qualities help you succeed in your job?

What’s helped me succeed in my job is having a strong work ethic and communication skills. You have to have the ability to multitask and problem-solve under a lot of pressure. There’s a lot of tasks that happen in one day and you need to be able to stay calm during them.

What’s a perk about working in the construction industry that most people don’t know about?

As a site supervisor, a great perk is you get the ability to work both outdoors and indoors. So, you’re not always on site and not always in an office. You get a great mix of the two — you have the onsite, overseeing things, and there are times when you’re in the trailer, communicating with other people, working on some paperwork. It’s a good mix.

There’s not as much construction done in the winter. You do have jobs where you are onsite, so it’s a little harder in the winter — then again, you are inside sometimes. So, it is still a good mix.

What makes you proud of your work?

What makes me proud is seeing the finished project. It’s cool to see something that I worked hard on.

Not every day is easy, there’s always a lot of problems, but it’s always something you can solve. Then, in the end, you get to see something that you are a part of, your team created.

It’s cool to be a part of heavy civil construction — sometimes you get to see your projects in the city. It makes you proud to know you are a part of creating something that people use, and everyone sees.

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