TARZANA, Calif. — For decades the construction industry has been a male-dominated industry but one company is helping women integrate.
From hard hats, protective eye wear and vests, safety is key for all workers on a construction job site. As a project engineer, Adriana Castro’s job requires her to make sure the work she inspects is done correctly.
But she felt a snag when it came to the sizing of safety vests in the industry.
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“I used to work around rebar on a past project and it was really difficult especially with line wire kind of sticking out everywhere or tie wire,” Castro said.
Most construction safety vests come in standard sizes that are designed for men. For Castro, that means an oversized vest, even in the smallest size.
“It’s long, it gets in the way. It’s not the easiest to bend down in. I’m a relatively small person so even the clean look of it was a little hard to capture,” Castro said.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, women like Castro make up about 10 percent of the workforce in the construction industry and construction companies like McCarthy Building Companies are hoping to grow that number by creating a more inclusive environment for women.
Ileana Holguin has worked with McCarthy for more than 20 years. She helped redesign two new safety vests alongside ML Kishigo, a safety apparel manufacturer to better fit women of any size with a narrower design for the shoulders, slits for the hips, smaller pockets and elastic for a more fitted vest.
It’s a design Holguin hopes will help more women feel comfortable on the job site.
“We didn’t have the support that we have now, and I think it’s really good to see that there are women coming in to McCarthy at a young age, they feel really comfortable and they love the construction industry as much as I did,” Holguin said.
It’s a small change, that is already making a difference for Castro.
“I can easily maneuver a little bit more. And just go about my day without having to worry about kind of how I look,” Castro said.
Castro said she plans for a long career in construction and hopes other women will be inspired to take on this industry too.