Years ago, it would be unusual to see a woman in a construction hat, digging a hole, running cable or fiber optic. That’s all changing. Although at times still a bit surprising to see, women are breaking down the barriers, diving headfirst into what used to be a male-dominated profession.
Danella Construction of Florida is helping break the barriers for women in construction, by bringing on women like Dee Matos, Telecommunications Foreman.
A veteran in the cable industry, Dee spent years working her way up the ladder from dispatcher to warehousing management for a large cable provider. Like everything else, however, change came to the cable industry. Automation made so much more possible, eliminating the need for significant manpower.
When the corporate mergers and buyouts of big cable enterprises began to change the landscape, Dee knew it was time to begin a new venture—little did she know where it would land her.
Dee took time off, decided what she wanted to do and entertained various job offers. She tried her hand at a few, but none of the jobs felt like the right fit.
In a surprising turn of events, Dee’s husband, Leonel, came home one night and asked her if she’d like a job with Danella. Floored by his question, Dee wasn’t sure what to think, and she had a lot of questions. Working with one’s spouse isn’t for the faint-hearted. It brings with it a unique set of challenges.
Being in warehousing, the job was a natural fit for Dee who had learned a lot about fiber cable. After many long discussions, Dee accepted the offer to work for Danella alongside her husband, Leonel.
Dee loves that every day her job is different. She and Leonel never know where they will be working from one day to the next. She could be in the city of Tampa or out in the middle of nowhere with the snakes and gators.
When you ask Dee if she feels intimidated in a male-dominated world, she shoots back “Not at all! The men are very supportive.” In fact, she must remind them, “I got this” because they’re always ready to help. Her strength and can-do attitude are an asset on the job.
Her best advice to women who want to break into what has traditionally a man’s world?
“Don’t overcompensate because you’re a female…don’t try so hard because you don’t want to appear desperate. It’s natural for women to want to show they can do the job just as good as any man. Just do it!”
At the end of the day what Dee finds most gratifying is her sense of accomplishment. When she and the crew have a big challenge in front of them and start asking, “How are we going to do this?” they put their heads together to come up with a solution that works.
“Making the impossible possible is the best feeling. Digging in and working alongside my crew I get so much satisfaction. That’s a feeling I never had in upper management. I wouldn’t trade this for anything.”
See more featured Danella women in construction.