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Updated: Oct 28, 2021
“I’ve been getting my hands dirty and loving it since I was about two years old.”
One of my fondest memories is with my dad in our backyard. An electrical engineer by trade, my Dad decided that he was going to lay the concrete in the backyard by himself. He didn’t know much about construction, but he did understand the science of how to build things and wanted to see if he could figure it out on his own. This mentality of ‘You can do anything you set your mind to’ was instilled in me by both of my parents and still drives me today.
So here we are in 1972 in my childhood home in Encino, working as a family, laying this concrete. None of us knew what we were doing at the time, but hey, we were together, learning and playing in life as a family.
We were never afraid to get our hands dirty!
I can still smell the rich, earthy scent of the outdoors on my dad’s shirt and feel his scruffy beard under my little hands. I remember my mom being silly and pretending to level the concrete in her red slippers, holding the trowel up as a prop for the Super-8 camera. I can still feel the wetness of the cool concrete on my feet and my Mom meticulously pushing my toddler toes deeper into the goo, galvanizing this memory forever. Just thinking of it, my heart bursts with a feeling of belonging that is grounded in the roots of love.
Barbie™ works the coal mine…
As a kid, I was always building and creating something – from building blocks to forts to full-on production adventures with my Barbie™ dolls. I created non-traditional jobs for my Barbies™ way back then – like taking them to the sooty fireplace and having them work in the coal mines. Then maybe they’d enjoy some well-earned time off in the swimming pool, sunning on a makeshift boat that I built. My fantastical adventures always involved objects that I had to build and create to support their storylines.
No girls allowed…
I thought that was just the way life was – creating, building, playing, and going on adventures. I think the first time I got a glimpse of gender inequity was when I was a tween. I used to have a group of friends, these neighborhood boys, and we would get together and play flag football or baseball in the cul-de-sac. We would go on adventures through the backyards and the hills, have swimming parties, eat lunch at whatever house was feeding us, and then jump back on our skateboards or bikes and finish off the day with a game of Atari. One day, I was late to the festivities because I had a homework assignment. Everyone was already hanging out in the treehouse. I climbed up the ladder and heard them laughing and having fun. When I reached the top rung of the ladder, I saw a note taped to the door that read, “No Girls Allowed!” in big letters. I was so mad. How dare they exclude me just because I wasn’t a boy! I took that note and ripped it in half and never hung out with them again.
The thing is, as women, these ‘treehouses’ are peppered into our daily landscapes and they’re popping up everywhere! And, if we don’t take action to change how women are viewed in non-traditional roles like construction and the building trades, we’re going to keep running into that “No Girls Allowed” sign over and over. I don’t think so…
Enter Girl Flip
Changing beliefs and perceptions is no small feat, but as I said – I come from a family who’s not afraid to get their hands dirty. Enter Girl Flip: A community where our mission is to promote women in the building trades by creating opportunity, awareness, education, and stability for women in non-traditional roles.
As a community of educated, experienced, and hard-working experts, we can change how women are perceived in the construction world and building trades. We can lay down some new pavement and create new pathways to the way people think about women and what they are capable of.
Let’s make some noise!
As a child, I was taught that I could do or be anything I wanted to be. My aunt marched for women’s rights in the ‘60s. She was the first to show me that if something wasn’t working, to stand up for what was right and make some noise! Currently, women make up 51% of the population, yet there are less than 2% of women working in construction. I think it’s time to make some noise and see some changes.
Hire a woman!
It’s time to teach all women and girls just how much they are capable of – even if they don’t understand it yet. Just because they’ve never seen a woman plumber, welder, or auto mechanic doesn’t mean they don’t exist. There is no such thing as “a man’s job.” That’s a ridiculous and faulty assumption. Sure, men can carry more wood or bricks or whatever else they can strong-arm on a construction site, but if you want something done well, and you appreciate the attention to detail from someone who really cares about the people and projects they work on, then my suggestion is…hire a woman! I invite you to join us at Girl Flip. Let’s make some noise, create community, and end gender segregation for women in construction. Because no treehouse should be off-limits to girls, ever.