• Bridging the Gap Beyond the Building Envelope

    When thinking about construction, manufacturing, or building materials, we recognize that it is a male-dominated industry. “For starters, just one in ten construction workers in the US are female. In construction trades, the number is even lower — there’s less than one woman to every 20 men.” 

    “How can we bridge the gap between women & the construction industry?" 

    For this week's blog, I interviewed our Territory Manager, Rebecca. 


    How did you get started in the construction Industry? 

    It was not my plan to be in the construction industry, I put my resume together, and wanted to move to an area that was growing and had diverse job market. I saw a job posting for building materials sales position for a Division 7 speciality distributor and applied. After my job offer, I took the risk and moved to Raleigh, North Carolina, from upstate New York 


    Call it persistence, relentless work ethic, or drive in general but if I didn’t have an internal drive to succeed, I wouldn’t be where I am today. dove into the Division 7 market in building materials and never looked back. I worked harder than I ever had by learning everything I could about Division Seven. My previous manager taught me how to maximize my skillset and gave me guidance to learn how to make decisions and set expectations with my customers and for myself.  


    After 5 years or so, I went the manufacturing route and became a Specifications Consultant. I learned how to specify products, how specs worked, what type of architects work on scopes or with different products. I also learned that specifications often, do not change. That is why our AIA presentations are important since everybody sees what else is out there to revisit specifications. After that, I realized that I liked the face-to-face contractor relationship and working with people on a project from start to finish. When I came on board with Keene, they have a product for just about every portion of the building envelope. That was exciting because I saw a lot of opportunities. And same with Barrett, because I had heard of them when I was with the Division 7 company. 


    Fast forward to now, I am responsible for the East Coast. I have learned alot about acoustics since joining Keene. It helped that I knew a bit about the firestop trade, so it wasn’t as bad of a learning curve. The building envelope line at Keene is exceptional and was an easy transition. However with our entangled net products, I dealt with Division Three, and concrete, not lightweight concrete, or gypsum concrete. The sales team at Keene helped me understand our customer base, market, and our products. Now, I can spit off facts and technical knowledge about acoustics.  I relate how a new product or system fits into the rest of the building within the building envelope. 


    What do you like most about being a woman in the industry?

    In construction, every day is different, I get to work with architects, construction workers and meet people from all walks of life. I am always learning about products, specifications, technical knowledge, and more. I still enjoy the shock factor when I walk on a jobsite and when I’m able to pleasantly surprise peers and customers with my knowledge and ability to get things done. 


    What Challenges do you face as a woman in construction? How have you overcome those challenges?

    Yes, there has been a dramatic change from when she started 2012. It just made me want to prove myself because I wanted to be on the same playing field everybody else. I have had some people say can I talk to the salesman at the office? And I said, well, you are talking to her! Now people may be a little wiry, but if you have confidence, are prepared, and show your skills or knowledge, you will be successful. There are always going to be people that do not agree with you. But do not be afraid of proving yourself and showing your skills or asking questions.  


    What advice would you give to an aspiring women in construction?

    Five years ago – I’d say take stuff with a grain of salt. Now, there has been an increase in respect for women. You may hear many comments here and there, but I always take the high road and put my energy into something else. If it’s ever to the point of blatant disregard or disrespect, then stand up for yourself and don’t feel guilty about it! I thankfully have only had a few experiences that were like that. But having a female perspective can bring a lot to the table; a different way of working and thinking. Which can be an asset to any employer to find ways to think outside the box and be innovative.


    How can we bridge the gap between women in construction and building products?

    Let's start bridging the gap between women and construction. Start seeing what women are doing in the industry; she answered my question or went above and beyond. Build your toolbox with the tools and knowledge that you need. Take advantage of the shock factor of being a female in the industry. Do not let anybody tell you that you can't do something, when it has to do with your capability, especially compared to someone else. For me, when someone tells me that I’m incapable, or that I can’t, it just pushes me even more to prove them wrong. Tell me I can’t, so I can show you that I CAN!  


    Last thoughts?

    Being a role model for my kids and having the constant support of my husband. That is more empowering than anything!

    Did you know? 

    Keene Building Products has a full Driwall System? This is a great way to have the materials you need to bridge the gap between your interior and exterier finish (check out examples of finishes below.) 

    Keene’s Driwall Rainscreen products are available in various sizes to fit the needs of your exterior wall systems. The structured strand product eliminates incidental moisture problems in most exterior veneer applications, including stucco, manufactured stone, and plank siding.   Keene’s Driwall Rainscreen drains excess moisture and ventilation in one product, the polymer core is resistant to most known corrosive chemicals, including solvents, and the rolls are wide with fewer seams. Plus, the core of Driwall Rainscreen absorbs and releases no moisture and prevents mold, mildew, or bacteria.




    Siding Finish








    Stone finish







    Stucco finish










    References:  https://constructionblog.autodesk.com/women-in-construction-industry-infographic/