Women proving that it’s no longer a man’s world
By Danyelle Johnson
Lola Fulmer started out as a cook for the construction crew that included her husband. Today, she is a part of that crew, putting steel structures together, building electrical sub stations and operating telephone and power lines.
And, she’s enjoying every minute of it.
“I grew bored just cooking for them,” Fulmer said. “I’m an outdoor person, and I like working outdoors, so that’s how I got my start.”
Fulmer represents the growing trend of women shifting roles in the work world.
Women are no longer sitting behind desks and answering telephones; instead, they are taking up the hammers and saws and laying pipes as plumbers and carpenters. They can also be seen in the tree cutting business as well as welding and even roofing.
It’s a trend that’s growing, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It estimates that 57.2 percent of women have taken up heavy lifting jobs.
Fulmer has been at it for a while — 17 years in fact. Not to be outdone by her male counterparts, she shows up in boots, a hard hat and a bright colored vest.
And she’s right there with them.
“They were really patient with me,” Fulmer said. “I have the mind and willpower to do it. It’s fun to me.”
So much for the belief that a woman’s place is in the kitchen. Change has been taking place over time, but it is very profound today.
While women are fighting for their place in the corporate world, these day-to-day jobs are easier to get into.
Some like Irene Huggins have found a position of authority in the military. With 25 years of experience in the Army, Huggins is now a lieutenant colonel.
Prior to enlisting in the Army, Huggins had worked several jobs. Some of those include probation officer, Jacksonville community relations commission, Mayors office and a government employee.
“Women get the opportunity to climb the ladder in the corporate world, but there still remains a glass ceiling where women are only allowed to go so far before they are blocked by male dominated positions,” Huggins said. “Some women have had success, but are we at the point where we can sit back and rest. No.”
Indeed. Take the case of Pamela Jones Smith, who has a lengthy career in construction work.
Today, she is a licensed contractor who owns Bernexis Construction Development. She has been working in construction for six years, but only started her own company a year ago.
Even with all her years in construction, Jones-Smith believes that women have not earned the same respect as men when it comes to her field.
“I’m new,” she said, “but I’ll prove myself.”