All-female crew helping break gender barriers in world of construction in Springfield

Published: Sep. 10, 2018 at 5:59 PM CDT
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A block away from Mercy Hospital in Springfield there's another small step in women's equality going on that hardly anybody knows about.

But in the field of construction that's still pretty much a man's world, you'll find that the crew that's doing the framwork on a two-story apartment complex is all women.

And it's an idea fostered by a man.

Sundance Keeper, who's named after Robert Redford in the movie "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid", owns a company (Sundance Construction), that has 100 employees, 10 of them women. And he decided to put together an all-female crew headed by his sister, Angelina, to show that there are not gender boundaries to this job.

"People need to know that really all it takes is motivation," Sundance said. "And anybody can do this."

"I thought it was cool," said construction worker Jennifer Lay when she heard that she would be part of the all-female crew.

"Let's do this," added co-worker Tara Aliff.

"I thought it was a good idea," Lay added. "It was kind of a chance for us to prove ourselves."

And they admit they do feel the pressure to do well. None of them (except for Angelina) have more than two years experience in construction coming from very different types of jobs.

"I was working at Daylight Doughnuts," said Laura Maylee.

"Lot of hospitality jobs," said Lay.

"Telemarketer. Waitress," added Amanda Pratt.

But they have no fear of the challenge of succeeding in a male-dominated world.

"Anything you can do I can do better," Lay said with a smile. "I hate to say that but..."

Being with an all-female crew is a little different.

"We like to dance every now and then," Aliff explained.

And Sundance notices a difference in women's work habits.

"They're more detail-oriented," he said.

And the proof is in the pudding.

"Look at these walls," Maylee said proudly. "They're up. We're getting it done."

The crew says the old stereotype of construction crews whistling and harassing women is not something they've experienced and that for the most part, they're accepted.

"Every once in a while there will be somebody treat you different because you're a woman," Angelina said. "But that's just one person in a great while."

Sundance said he's only notice an increase in women in construction in the last decade and the number is still small.

And as for the future growth of women in this field?

The jury is still out.

"The truth is I don't think this line of work is for a lot of women because it's physically hard and the weather is awful whether it's hot or it's cold," Pratt said. "But there's something about this. I love it. I'm just kind of a weird one. I feel like we're all kinda weird ones."