Based on general statistics alone, the number of women in the workforce has almost caught up with the number of men. Before the pandemic, women made up nearly 47% of the workforce in the United States. On closer inspection, however, the picture is not that rosy. Even before COVID-19, many of the country’s highest paid industries had an overrepresentation of men, especially in their highest ranks. ORK But some women have planted their flags right in the middle of these fields to make a name for themselves. On the following pages, read about three Tampa Bay area women who are leaders in male-dominated industries and see how they use their stories to open doors for others to follow in their footsteps.
To make it work
Beth Galic paves the way for women in manufacturing
Beth Galic works in manufacturing and has seen the tangible impact of the products of the companies she worked for, from water treatment systems to molded plastics. In marketing, it was their responsibility to get the stakeholders to hear the company’s message. But first she had to get the people in charge at her company to hear her message. “Many of the managers were men who had been with the company for a long time,” she recalls. “It wasn’t just me [the only woman in the room]But I also brought new technology and innovation into the organization, which was a big change. I have workouts planned and a lot of the men just wouldn’t show up. “
“Change can be extremely difficult and scary for people,” she adds. But they have changed, and Galic has found a way to make her own way in the manufacturing industry. She initially joined the Bay Area Manufacturers Association to connect her then employer with more educational resources and networking opportunities. BAMA’s program planning and planning assistance resulted in a seat on the board of directors, which resulted in a holiday dinner that once again radically changed Galic’s career path. She became the organization’s chief executive in 2019, a move she says other women can learn from.
“Be open to new opportunities and go for it,” says Galic. “It wasn’t my plan to become the manager of a club, but I saw the potential and took a gamble. Even if you feel that you are not ready or that you do not have all of the skills listed in the job posting, apply anyway. Companies can always practice their skills, but attributes like punctuality, attitude and motivation are what they are looking for and will set you apart. “
As manufacturing continues to recover from the pandemic, more needs to be done to expose women and girls to the diversity of high-paying careers in manufacturing, according to Galic. And like everything else, she says, it’s a matter of hard work and learning what you can do. “One of the best things you can do about your career is in control of your career path,” says Galic. “The better trained and prepared you are, the more confidence you have in your abilities.”
BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD
The architect Gloria Kloter turned hurdles into inspiration for the next generation
GLORIA KLOTER’s first experience with architectural design was creating houses for her dolls as a child. Then, in high school, when an older friend was struggling with her design homework for architecture school, the pieces started clicking in her head. “I felt that I could see the solutions to these ‘problems’ very clearly in my head,” says Kloter.
She graduated with a degree in architecture and opened her own company in the Dominican Republic. She quickly gained recognition for projects like the country’s first Steve Madden retail store and was given the opportunity to work as a professor of design and architectural design at Chábon, a design school in Chábon, Santo Domingo. Everything seemed perfectly aligned with her move to the US when she got married in 2015, but a massive hurdle soon emerged. Your architecture license would not be transferred. While she was still working on passing the exams and certifications she needed to get her American license (which she did in 2019), she began helping other architects who had moved here from other countries find the resources that she had to dig in her trip for. Because of her mentoring work, she was even promoted to licensing advisor with the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards – something she believes is key to being a woman in the industry.
“Have you heard the saying, ‘If she can see it, it can be her'”? Kloter says. “The main way I built a reputation for myself was my passion for the industry and my willingness to help, mentoring others while developing my own design and leadership skills,” says Kloter. “Every time I felt like I was hitting a glass ceiling, I made sure to break through it and position myself over it.”
In 2020, not long after welcoming their first baby, Nova, Kloter reopened her Tampa architectural practice and won the Kelley Award for Emerging Professionals of the Tampa Bay Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. Glow Architects is one of the few women-owned architecture firms in the area, and Kloter says it gave her the freedom to pursue her own version of success.
“When I came to the US, some people tried to undermine my potential by criticizing my vision of being an interior architect [instead of exteriors] … I suggested focusing on what they thought was “more important,” ”she recalls. “Now I can concentrate on private commercial and high-quality residential projects where I can offer my clients the best version of myself as an architect and designer.”
“Women architects are limitless. We are miracle makers, ”adds Kloter. “Our bodies can create life and our minds can create buildings.”
Jennifer A. Lewis, U.S. Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer, navigated rocky waters to make the military a more welcoming place for women
JENNIFER A. LEWIS, a senior NCO in the U.S. Navy, joined the Navy 16 years ago, just 11 years after the first women were ordered to serve aboard combat ships. Those 27 years, she says, have made a huge difference to women in the military, changing culture to become more inclusive. But, says Lewis, it wasn’t easy to push for this change.
“My first tour was really tough,” she says. “I was the only woman in my department that consisted mostly of 18-25 year olds and had about 100 employees. I was a young woman who was still finding out who I was in an environment where, in order to be successful, I had to tone down my femininity or be derogatory. … [For example]I was told I was squeamish and a ‘needy girl’ when I reported a bedbug infestation in the convicted barracks where we were housed. “
“I was constantly concerned about how every decision I made would be perceived through the eyes of men,” she adds.
Talking to her boss helped convince her to hold out. “He said if I got off who would? [he] promote and make sure what happened to me and so many others no longer happened to female sailors? “
Lewis was selected to become a flag writer, a member of the personal staff of the Navy’s flag officers (from rear admirals to four-star generals) who are responsible for planning, planning, speech-writing and other administrative duties. Currently stationed at MacDill Air Force Base for the second time, she most recently served with the Secretary of the Navy and Secretary of Defense in Washington, DC. There she had the opportunity to plan military-wide events for women. Lewis quickly rose to senior chief petty officer; Only 8% of seafarers of this rank are women.
“I was motivated to move up quickly so I could be more effective for other people,” says Lewis. “Someone needs you at the next pay grade to do the right thing.”
As difficult as it is to be away from her husband (a Master Chief Pet-Ty Officer in the Navy) and 9-year-old daughter so often, Lewis says it’s moments like a recent experience that helping a fellow seaman deals with the harassment she has experienced that she hopes will make her family proud.
“It can feel so lonely looking around the room and not seeing anyone who looks like you,” says Lewis. “I held out for those moments – to be there, have a direct impact, and help someone. To let her know that someone else went into this one [shoes] before and that there will be light in the end. “
The Navy has made great strides in accepting women, says Lewis. Otherwise she would not have dedicated her life to her mission. The Navy taught her the resilience women need for any career they choose. And that resilience helps her keep pushing for the military to be a more welcoming place to work for everyone.
“I think we can do better if we’re more compassionate and normalizing men who stand up for women,” says Lewis. “Men don’t walk in women’s shoes so it is our job to help them understand and it is their job to listen and advocate when they are in those positions to do so. They have to open doors for us so that we can excel. It has been proven that we excel when the doors are open to us. I think our navy is stronger with women in it. “