The Roanoker - March/April 2020 - 51

yourself. That hard work, in turn, makes you
more than qualified for the job."
"It's a male-dominated industry because
of our mindset, not because of the industry
itself," Dollman says. Women are more
detail-oriented and good at artisan work
because they understand aesthetics. Building
cabinetry, trim work and installing flooring
all require such an understanding.
Fortenberry agrees that women excel in
the trades. "We're seeing more women," she
says, "but I'd like to see more. Women can
do anything men can do. In Ireland, I saw
women running excavators."
She also noted that if a woman struggles
with a physical task on the job, like lifting
something heavy, the men are more than
willing to assist when there's mutual respect
and teamwork.
Thaisjana Bailey, another 17-year-old
Burton student, says, "Sometimes guys will
want to take over and do something for me
because they're guys. But I just tell them,
'I need to prove my womanhood.'" Bailey's
father works in the construction industry but
she didn't want to be a "mini version" of him,
so she chose the automotive field.
"There needs to be a light shined on the
fact that trades aren't just for guys," she says.

Are women
suited to
building
trades?
Kish says that work ethic makes women a
good fit for the building industry.
"When you're a woman in a trade," he
says, "you have to work harder to prove

TheRoanoker.com

What is the
message?
The message that women are welcomed
in the building trades is slow coming. The
current enrollment of female students in the
Building Trades program at Burton is five.
According to Kish, that's up from three the
last three school years. However, they've had
19 female students apply for the 2020-21
school year.
Burton's administrative team interviews
every applicant to discover their motives and
strives to get the right students in the right
classes for the right reasons, says Kish. They
encourage each student to pursue their own
passions, not follow along with their peers.
"Evidence proves," he says, "that aligning

talents and passion with a profession can
have a profound impact on income and
mental health." He goes on to explain that
if a student has a passion for plumbing but
a parent coerces them to pursue a fouryear degree that doesn't interest them, the
parent has hindered the child's future earning
potential and happiness.
"He should make more as a highly-skilled
plumber," he says, "than as an average middle
manager and would be happier and more
fulfilled doing what he enjoys and is good at."

The
changing
landscape
If we don't see more women in building
trades because of mindset, as Dollman
says, what will change that? Dollman, like
Smith's father, takes his daughter, 11-yearold Sophia, to work.
"She's seen the process from design to
build," he says. "I have two sons but she's
taken the most interest. She's interested in
the environmental impact of a design and
likes to learn how to use reclaimed products."
In the process of building his own home,
Dollman encouraged Sophia to design her
own ballet studio in the basement. She's been
taking ballet for eight years and Dollman
knew she had the eye and the aptitude for
the job. Not only did she create the design,
she also assisted with painting, flooring and
the barre installation.
Kish thinks more media coverage of
female successes would help shift the
mindset. Dollman believes that exposure,
coupled with counseling advice, is needed.
Smith asserts women in the field need to use
their voice to inspire other women.
That 's just what Justice Wilfong and
Thaisjana Bailey are doing. They recently
agreed to speak out on behalf of the program
through the school's social media channels.
After all, that's where future students would
hear the call. I

MARCH/APRIL 2020 51


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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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