If you’re a woman who works on-site like me (even if only occasionally), you know that it’s not the easiest of tasks, especially because more often than not we’re the only woman on the job site.
In episode 8 of the Transmit Safety Podcast, I got to hang out with Constanza (aka @technically.a.tech on Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok). She is an environmental field technician and has built a following on social media sharing her day-to-day life at work, as well as reviewing women’s workwear. We chatted not only about her specific field of work, but we also got to talk about our experiences with fieldwork and share some very useful hot field tips to make working on site easier and (even) enjoyable.
If you’ve ever struggled on the job site, you definitely want to keep reading. I have compiled those amazing tips into this guide just for you. You’ll learn all about:
- Working with the other contractors as (usually) the only woman on the job site
- Finding the perfect field workwear and safety gear for you
- Finding the perfect community for you
Ready to finally start doing fieldwork like a boss? Then, let’s do this!
Working with the other contractors as (usually) the only woman on the job site
As I mentioned, working at a job site isn’t always easy, especially for us women. There are additional hazards that we need to consider when it comes to being on-site by ourselves and even different security concerns, such as working late, working alone, and so on.
Knowing this, here are some things to keep in mind that will help when doing fieldwork:
Never go to a site expecting your plan to go through with no hiccups
It’s very important to be easygoing and to go with the flow. Mistakes or delays happen, maybe because of us, maybe because of the equipment. Being out in the field also means being subject to weather fluctuations, some days are really hot or really cold, and you may need to take extra breaks. So, be ready to do some problem-solving in addition to being flexible.
Not everybody will be thrilled with your presence on site (for work reasons)
If you are a Health and Safety professional, environmental consultant, or do something else that may cause changes to the execution plan, people won’t always like that you’re there. I mean, no one really likes it when someone comes along and says that the project needs to shift or that we need to pause on what we’re doing and rethink how to get the job done. So, you should be aware of this.
Constanza has also noticed that there’s kind of a generational shift, where some of the older guys very easily get very grumpy, or very angry and upset when something goes wrong. Make sure to keep this in mind.
The good news is that there are some ways to make this dynamic between you and the other contractors better:
- Do not take it personally! You’re there doing your job, and that is to make sure the project and execution are as good and safe as they can be. It’s not your problem or your fault how people choose to deal with the outcomes of your job!
- Try to maintain a good relationship and a very positive attitude on-site as a way to have a positive interaction with those you are working closely with.
- Be clear on your communication and be sure to communicate with your project manager at all times, and keep those you’re working with up to speed on what you’re doing and your findings. That way even if delays and changes to the plan happen, it will not come as a surprise to them.
Finding the perfect field workwear and safety gear for you
Let’s face it, you’ve probably already tried something on in the changing room or at home that felt okay and like it would suit the purpose. But when you took it out into the job site and started actually going through your regular everyday motions, you saw it would not work for you at all. Sadly, you’ve already taken the tag off and are now saddled with some gear that you used (a lot of) your own money on, but will probably never actually use again. That’s the worst, right?
I know it’s a hassle, but finding field workwear and safety gear that is size-inclusive, actually comfortable, durable, well-priced, and fits well is still essential, and here are 3 reasons why:
I’m sure that, like me, you have probably faced problems like tripping over gear, having your boots fall off because they’re too big, or your jacket getting in the way because the sleeves are too long. Well, that is NOT safe and may cause serious issues or accidents.
“If we’re working in these environments that are posing risks on our health, we need to be in the appropriate gear. That’s the whole reason it’s there.” – Constanza
When your gear is not suitable to your needs it will get in the way of our work, it will cause you to be uncomfortable or distracted and that will keep you from being as productive as you can be.
There are some companies out there that “Shrink in Pink”, for example, they will make their men’s pants smaller, add some pink to them and say they’re women’s pants. But these companies are actually missing the mark, what we want is for the look to be the same and to feel like we belong on site.
Great, but knowing that doesn’t make this search any easier, does it? Well, fear not because we’ve got you covered.
It used to be that when you wanted to buy inclusive workwear there was no real information about it, no reviews anywhere, no posts on the websites, and you’d have to go in blind while spending all this money. But now things have changed, Constanza’s mission is to help us find comfortable, quality workwear, that is inclusive in sizing. She is using her hard-earned money to buy different types of gear and testing them in a true work setting so you don’t have to.
She answers the important questions we have when making this type of purchase, like: “can you bend over comfortably in these pants?”, “how many pockets does it have? do they come with zippers? are they big enough?”, and “is it warm enough to face the winter or light enough to face the summer?”. Not only that, her reviews are super thorough and reliable, she truly values honesty and says that:
”If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work, and I’m not going to try and sell something that I don’t believe in. So, I have done sponsored ads and it’s usually gear that either I have already tried or that I was sent and tried for a long time.” – Constanza
Constanza shared that the biggest challenge for women when it comes to workwear is finding quality pants that will fit, not bog her down or constrict her movements. So, to help you get this right, here’s Constanza’s Review of Good Women’s Pants:
And now that you know what type of pants to get for doing fieldwork, here’s another pro-tip that will help you make them as comfortable and functional as possible:
Get your pants in a larger size, pair it with a great stretchy belt and your golden
The waistband of workwear pants are usually made of very tough material that is not always the most comfortable. So, buying pants that are a little bit bigger and wearing a stretchy belt will keep them sitting on your hips when you’re standing, so they’re not falling down, and when you’re bending over, it will keep the waistband from digging into your hips. To make sure you get a really good belt that will suit your needs and help you rock working in the field, you can check out my go-to belt for workwear at Unbelts (this is not sponsored at all, just me sharing something that I like and that has definitely suited my needs).
As Canadians, there’s another challenge that needs to be addressed in this guide, and that is the weather, more specifically our cold and harsh winters. Well, according to the Swedish “there’s no bad weather, only bad clothing” and we know that learning how to dress appropriately for different weather conditions is a must. So, to learn more about how to face those terribly cold months while working on site, check out Constanza’s video on Layering for Outdoor Winter Work & Doing It On A Budget.
Finding the perfect community for you
When we work in these environments where there aren’t a lot of us, having a community where we can connect with others like us and share our experiences with people who really “get it” becomes really important. Not only that, this creates a space for female-focused conversations around the issues and challenges of being a woman on site to happen, so we can find and share solutions to make fieldwork life easier on all of us. (Like, what we’re doing in today’s post and in episode 8 of the Transmit Safety Podcast)
A lot of us ladies have turned to social media to find our own communities and have started connecting online. The bonds that we’re creating are truly deep, especially because we know the life that these other women lead or the experiences that they have at work and the fact that it’s much easier and fun when the need to explain yourself is so much less than normal.
Constanza herself is creating a community for women to feel heard and understood in her social media channels (Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok), she does this by speaking candidly about the experience of women in STEM and construction. She is everyone’s job site bestie and she will also make sure you’re staying hydrated and UV protected during those long days on site.
Having this connection online is really special and really important. However, for a lot of us (and especially for Constanza) connecting online is not always enough and we crave meeting these amazing friends in person. So, Constanza reached out to her community, initially talking to her friend Tessa Ferzli (@tattedbrickie), a bricklayer, and then connecting and bringing on Samara Sampson (@wingnutless), a metal sheet worker, and Darci Spiteri (@sparks_to_sparkles), a 2nd-year electrical apprentice, to the scheme. They came together and became just like sisters, with an incredible bond and buzzing with ideas on how to continue fostering this community online, but also taking it offline whenever possible, and that’s how the Women on Site Community was born.
Women on Site provides support and advocacy to any female in a male-populated occupation, organizes meetups where they all come together and just celebrate each other, and creates a platform for sharing experiences and fighting the stereotypes daily.
The community is rapidly growing its reach online, with women across North America and even from New Zealand. For now, they are still based in Ontario, Canada (where all the founders are from) with offline meetups taking place in the region. But these badass women have lots of big ideas and have lots planned for the future of the community.
So, if you do anything from holding up a sign on site, to guaranteeing everyone’s health and safety, taking soil samples, selling/delivering materials, design/engineering, demolition, conservation, manufacturing, and so much more Women on Site is the PERFECT community for you!
You can join and learn more about the community on Instagram @women.on.site
Thank you for hanging on through this entire post!
Wondering how you can hear and learn more about this topic? You can find all of this amazing information – and more about Constanza, her field of work, finding the right gear, and building community with Women on Site in episode 8 of the Transmit Safety Podcast – The Perfect Fit: Finding the Right Gear and Community with Constanza (Technically A Tech).
To continue discovering ways to achieve a holistic approach to workplace health and safety, and become an impactful Health and Safety leader, make sure to tune into the next episodes of the Transmit Safety Podcast.