It used to be that you didn't see many women in roofing. That's slowly changing. Although women in roofing currently make up less than roughly half a percent of all roofing professionals in the United States, that narrow slice represents a growing number of women in the industry.
Many women are finding that a roofing career can deliver a rewarding experience, financial security for their families, and paths to advancement that offer more responsibility and higher pay scales. They've joined thousands of other women thriving in a dominant masculine industry.
Securing a Rewarding Career
Jackie Locklear of Locklear Roofing, a GAF Certified Contractor in North Carolina, says she's experienced firsthand the rewards that come with working in the roofing industry. Locklear Roofing was founded in 1980 by her father, who she described as a true tradesman.
Locklear says she had little involvement in the business growing up. When technology started to emerge in the mid-1990s, her father needed guidance implementing it into the business. Locklear explains her father was struggling trying to keep up with the new age of construction, and given her background in computers and business, she agreed to help him for a year.
At the end of that year, the number of roofs they were installing each week had tripled. They came to a new arrangement: she would take care of the business while her father managed field operations. Locklear says it was an opportunity for her, as a single parent, to earn enough money to support herself and her son. "I couldn't do that 25–30 years ago on a traditional female salary," she says, noting that in the South people often anticipated that women would become teachers or secretaries—not work in the trades.
Promoting Roles for Women in Roofing
Jackie Locklear recommends roofing as a great industry for women to consider, especially since many tend to excel in skills such as attention to detail and providing unmatched service to customers—things that really matter. "One of my lead service techs is a woman," says Locklear. "She stays out in the field, responding to service calls, and our homeowners and builders adore and appreciate her. We also have two women on the team who coordinate our projects and roofing crews."
During her time in the industry, she has seen perceptions changing—from both customers and employees. "I have one general contractor that has four daughters, and he shared that when he was growing up, he thought this was a man's trade. But now that he has daughters, his mindset has changed, because he wants them to be able to do whatever their heart desires."
Connecting Women-Owned Businesses
Locklear is the proud owner of the company that she helped her father grow. She continues to maintain it today with her son, Joshua Locklear, who is the acting vice president of operations. Roofing Contractor reports that women own less than 1% of roofing companies in the US. Locklear wants to see that figure double over time. "I hope I have paved the way for more women to get into construction. Growth and opportunities continue to multiply, and women have found that the construction industry is more fulfilling than other careers." The doors have been opening more readily now than they were 25 years ago."
One woman-owned, GAF Certified roofing company in Texas went so far as to form an all-female roofing crew by just reaching out on social media to recruit women. Her mission is to empower women to break the cycle of low-paying jobs and to find a rewarding career in the roofing industry.
Creating Networks for Success
When Locklear started in the roofing industry, there weren't a lot of resources or networks to support women in nontraditional careers. Today with organizations like National Women in Roofing (NWIR), which GAF is proud to sponsor, women have a strong support network to help them be successful. One of NWIR's pillars is mentoring, working to pair women together and empower them to achieve success in the roofing industry.
"I have connections now that, if I've got an issue, I feel comfortable picking up the phone and asking a question," says Locklear. "I can say: this is what I'm going through. Are you having the same issue? Or, how is your workforce? How are you bringing in new employees?"
For women considering a career change, Locklear says they should know that the opportunities are endless.
Finding More than Just a Job
Locklear is passionate about the industry, saying, "When you love what you do, it becomes more than just a job. The roofing industry is different every day. Every building, every home, and every project brings different challenges."
Career in roofing are beneficial beyond the financial gain as well. The rewarding feeling that comes from watching a project from start to finish sends everybody home with the sense of accomplishment and dignity. At the end of every day, you know that your work is helping protect families and communities, keeping them safe and dry under their roof—all while breaking the glass ceiling. "I think we've broken that ceiling now," she says.
Does a career in roofing sound like the right fit for you? Start exploring career opportunities today at GAF.