I get a little self-conscious when I’m taking photos of doors because I think people are probably wondering why in the world I would be doing that. I haven’t been approached by Security yet, but I’m sure that day will come.
Tonight I was at a hotel for the New England Chapter DHI meeting, and I saw a badly-mangled closer on the ladies room vestibule door. After dinner I was in the ladies room doorway, standing on one foot, holding the door open with my other foot, trying to get just the right angle with the camera, while looking at the LCD screen and pressing the button. As I was standing there looking like a fool, the outer door opened. Busted! I was so relieved to see that it was 3 of my DHI pals (all ladies, of course). They probably still thought I was weird, but they didn’t call Security on me.
The bathroom encounter got me thinking about women in the door and hardware business. I have met a lot of really knowledgeable women in the industry and at this point I don’t think anyone finds it unusual. But looking around at the DHI meeting and seeing women representing less than 10% of the attendance reminded me of what it was like when I first started in the industry.
I skipped my senior year of high school and graduated from college with an Associate Degree in Architecture when I was 18. I spent the first year and a half working for an aluminum storefront company and then went to work for a hardware distributor. I wasn’t just female, I was 20 years old! The contractors didn’t want to waste their time talking to me since they assumed I didn’t know anything. Once I got a couple of years under my belt, the contractors loved me because I did what I said I would do, but I had to stay hidden in my office so they wouldn’t know that their project manager was barely old enough to buy beer.
When I started working for MPS Sales, the local Ingersoll Rand rep agency, I was an AHC/CDC with about 8 years of industry experience, but I didn’t know a lot of the local distributors (or they didn’t know me). It took several years to win over the customers who only wanted to talk to “one of the guys.” I can still clearly remember a conversation with a customer when I was alone in the office and I insisted that I could help him, and he gave me his lunch order. 🙁
We’ve all come a long way since those days and I’m so glad to see more women entering the industry and earning certifications. You go girls!!!