By: Jodie Ann Beatty
Women’s History Month is a time to celebrate women and the profound impact and contributions they make to our communities. As a proud union carpenter for 18 years, I’ve seen first-hand the importance of building up and supporting fellow women in the union.
Like many fields, construction is a historically male-dominated industry. Despite being intimidated at first, joining the union was the best decision I have ever made. The union was there for me when I lost my husband just a few years after I joined. As a single mom, things weren’t always easy. But thanks to the union I was able to have a secure job and benefits that allowed me to support my daughter and even send her to college.
My experience has made me passionate about supporting my fellow union sisters because every woman deserves the same family-sustaining wages, quality benefits, and supportive community that I have found in the NYC Carpenters Union.
Having a mentor and a strong network of women who supported me was intrinsic to my career success. That’s why the District Council’s Sisters in the Brotherhood (SIB) mentorship program is so important. SIB provides the tools and network to support women in the union by matching new female carpenters with more experienced union sisters as they carve out their careers in the industry.
Two union carpenters, Candice Hewitt and Roxanne DiPaolo, have epitomized the benefits of the mentorship program. Candice has been in the union for 12 years and is mentoring Roxanne, who just joined in May 2021. Candice has played a pivotal role in Roxanne’s transition into the union, teaching her everything from workplace etiquette to providing valuable feedback and lessons on how to be the best union construction worker possible. Candice has been able to pass down the knowledge that her mentor gave to her and be an intrinsic part of Roxanne’s journey in our union. Candice and Roxanne have a bond that allows them to feel closer as union carpenters and their relationship has grown to cover hardships both on and off the jobsite. This is the support that women need.
None of us planned to work in the construction industry, but our jobs have given us more than we ever could have imagined. We have all worked hard to prove ourselves since the day we joined and have been lucky to find a supportive network of union sisters and brothers who are committed to our success.
For any woman that wants to join the construction industry, I encourage you to pursue that dream. You will be welcomed by a community that has your back and will gain the skills and career that will support you for a lifetime.