While women continue to shatter glass ceilings, there are still significant challenges to overcome when it comes to representation of women in the workplace. In many U.S. industries, women often hold fewer leadership positions when compared to their male counterparts in the same field. When it comes to facilities management, that rings particularly true as data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that women only account for 25% of facilities manager positions.
To encourage young women in any field, it is important to highlight how females in leadership positions are progressing throughout their career and achieving goals they set out for themselves. We hope sharing our experiences as two female university grounds managers with SSC Services for Education, a national facilities and grounds management provider, can help shed light on an unconventional career path and inspire others to explore the field.
Why we got into facilities management
The path to a specific career is never clearly defined. We both learned about facilities management during our time at our respective universities. While we didn’t study it directly, our educational experiences exposed us to opportunities where we could assist with local arboretums, farms, and other grounds management projects. Gaining that first-hand experience was valuable as it provided a way to connect with other professionals in the field, while also allowing us to get a sense for the day-to-day work. Along the way, faculty and local professionals helped serve as mentors. These mentors helped open doors within the industry and showed us areas to grow and expand our knowledge.
The biggest challenges to overcome
A major challenge to overcome in the facilities field is the lack of representation of women. Many grounds maintenance crews across the country consist of more men than women, with even less women serving in leadership roles. While there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to solving this, there are steps organizations and those in the industry can take to overcome it. For those already in the field, use your network to encourage other women to consider a career in facilities and all the opportunities that come with it. For those who already have a career in the field, lean on your management to make sure female employees have a seat at the table when it comes to leadership roles. We’ve found that when you make your thoughts and concerns known, you’re helping your organization create an open and inclusive workspace, one that will help everyone achieve their goals.
To our female counterparts who may be struggling with this, our advice is to stay strong, be assertive, and hold teammates accountable for their responsibilities. It’s vital to create a culture where everyone feels included and valued in today’s workplace, regardless of gender.
Tips for others looking to pursue this career
Our biggest piece of advice for any woman looking to pursue a career in facilities is to be confident in yourself. You may not be an expert at the start, but confidence comes with more time on the job. At times it can feel daunting to be a woman in facilities, but that shouldn’t negate the fact that we can and do belong in this industry.
Another thing we want women in this field is to know is you have the right to speak up and ask for help when you need it. As women we may have to pave a slightly different path for our place in facilities, but in our experience, we’ve found our male colleagues are always willing to lend a helping hand and offer advice when needed.
Finally, work hard and always give it your best effort. The facilities field is constantly evolving, and while the representation of women in facilities is still low, more and more women are joining and becoming leaders in the field.