Taking Initiative and a Bite Out of a Male-Dominated IndustryMarch 10th, 2022 by Travis Rains
Samantha Reed first tried her hand in the restaurant and health care industries before realizing she needed a change to a faster-paced environment. She now has six years under her tool belt at ProVia in a career that not only allowed her to learn new skills, but also provided the opportunity for her to continue making a difference in the lives of others. With the 24th Annual Women In Construction Week now in full swing, Reed wants women to know that “anything is possible.”
After hearing of a job opening at ProVia, manufacturer of exterior building products based in Sugarcreek, Ohio, Reed decided to pursue a new career.
“And here I am six years later. I was just ready to learn something new, something that was kind of fast paced,” Reed said. “I like to stay busy, I’ve got a good eye for detail, and was just looking for something to keep me busy and moving, and help make the day go fast.”
After six years and working multiple positions at the company, Reed is now the wood finishing lead. Rising to the lead position saw no shortage of hard work and initiative taken on Reed’s part. But Reed knew she needed to learn all she could in order to advance in the company.
“I was getting the finished product ready to be shipped out to our customers. From there I kind of learned other jobs within my department, and that kind of gave me the knowledge,” she said. “I’m always asking questions, and was taking that initiative to ask and to learn, and to gain that knowledge I would need to become a leader.”
Reed now handles big-picture items on a daily basis, such as helping supervisors provide employees with everything they need to advance the product. She checks on daily operations, ensures completions for the day are sent out and helps elsewhere anywhere she’s able.
Entering, and rising through, an industry dominated by males did come with hurdles, most notably for Reed overcoming the misconception surrounding women and the manufacturing industry. Reed wasn’t deterred by that “common misconception,” and encouraged other women to pursue their manufacturing-industry careers.
“The common misconception is that it’s more of a man’s job, just because it’s perceived that way,” she said. “I like the mindset of you can do anything you put your mind to. I don’t think it matters being a woman; we can do just as many things as what all of the men can do. So don’t be discouraged by that common misconception.”
And it helps to be a part of a company providing women with equal opportunities for advancement, which Reed said is the case with ProVia. According to Ariane Hegewisch, senior research fellow at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, a recent survey of 2,600 tradeswomen found that a third of those surveyed said they are not treated equally so far as advancement.
“When there are job opportunities available, things that come up whether it be in leadership positions or elsewhere, you apply, everybody gets interviewed and they choose the best candidate, whether it’s male or female,” she said. “It’s all in what you can do for the position that’s being offered. There were other males that were up for the lead spot whenever it was offered to me.”
Reed also receives the same support from not only management, but her crews as well. Having started at the bottom, Reed said her crews were familiar with her upon her promotion and knew she could handle the job. She said the ProVia team has one another’s backs.
“I guess it was always my fear, feeling like it was mostly male-dominated,” Reed said. “But being with ProVia, I can’t say there’s been a time where I felt I haven’t been given a chance because I’m a woman. They do really well with not making you feel that way. Pretty much, the sky is the limit.”
Reed also sits on ProVia’s CEO Advisory Group, which is comprised of people from all throughout the company and its departments.
“We go over things they want our input on, and we bring things to the meeting for concerns employees might have,” Reed said. “I’m not the only female; it’s a pretty good balance between males and females. Everybody tends to look at things a little bit differently, so it kind of gives you a view from all different angles.”
Reed’s lead position sees her tackle numerous challenges on any given day, from addressing maintenance problems to remaining calm while ensuring everyone is where they need to be. But her role also allows her to build relationships, a benefit of employment she’s glad also exists in the manufacturing industry.
“I enjoy what I do. You’re helping to build or create something to help people,” she said. “I came from health care, yet at the same time in the window and door factory, people need good windows in their homes to stay warm or to stay cool. Everything in the industry serves a purpose, and it’s a purpose that people need.”
The 24th Annual Women In Construction Week runs from Sunday, March 3 through Saturday, 7. For more information, go to https://www.nawic.org/.
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