The Roanoker - March/April 2020 - 50

at least $30,000. To make that debt burden
even heavier, teachers often feel pressure to
secure advanced degrees.
When a student graduates from a school
like Burton, they have no debt load and,
because they hold industry certifications,
frequently work their way up to a competitive
salary range faster than their peers took
to get through college. But the question
remains, do the same doors open for women
as for men?
Dollman thinks yes. "There's no room
in the industry to be a male chauvinist
anymore."
He explains that after coming through a
decade of telling our children they had to
go to college, and the men in the building
trades aging out, there is a serious shortage
of tradespeople.
"We're not far from where you're going to
pay your plumber more than your lawyer," he
says. According to Dollman, labor shortages
are requiring employers to accept other
possibilities.
"It's not a question of whether to hire a
woman over a man," he says. "It's whether or
not I'll find anyone at all qualified to hire."

Not what it
used to be
Construction sites are no longer what you
see depicted on the silver screen. The day of
the stereotypical construction worker telling
off-color jokes and cat-calling to any woman
who dares to venture near is becoming a
thing of the past.

50

MARCH/APRIL 2020

"We have rules on our jobs," says Suzi
Fortenberry, vice president of Bench Mark
Builders in Roanoke and past president
of the Roanoke Regional Home Builders
Association. "We have a high standard and
don't allow language. And, we let the subs
know that at the get-go," she says.
Fortenberry stresses the importance of a
professional image, particularly in the home
building and remodeling arena, because you
never know when a homeowner will walk
onsite. "When our plumber's wife started
working with him," Fortenberry says, "she
really raised the bar" as far as conduct on the
job site went. You have to ask, though, how
was she treated by the men?
The nightly news reveals that no industry

is a safe haven for women. But because
of standards like Fortenberry's and her
plumber's, improvements are happening in
the building trades.
"I've felt it," says Alicia Smith, director
of marketing and development with F&S
Building Innovations, of condescension from
men toward women on the job site. "But I
never let it phase me."
Smith's father founded F&S in 1976
building homes on Smith Mountain Lake.
Since then, the company has grown to include
both a residential and commercial division.
Smith frequently accompanied her father to
job sites growing up. She says that a woman
in the building industry simply does her best
and earns the respect of her male counterparts.

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The Roanoker - March/April 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Roanoker - March/April 2020

The Roanoker - March/April 2020 - Intro
The Roanoker - March/April 2020 - Cover1
The Roanoker - March/April 2020 - Cover2
The Roanoker - March/April 2020 - 3
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The Roanoker - March/April 2020 - Cover3
The Roanoker - March/April 2020 - Cover4
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