Reagan Branch, CSP, CIH is encouraging women to embrace careers in construction safety. Construction is a career field not traditionally gender diverse, with 11 men for every woman. As construction begins an economic recovery, and housing starts’ growth raises demand for homebuilders, the field offers greater opportunity for any who would seize it.
“Construction is a male dominated world and I think many women are intimidated by the prospect of taking on an authoritative role in this industry,” explains Branch. “Women can also bring a unique perspective to these industries that can spur economic growth. There are many avenues for entry into this sector and it is worth exploring. Through outreach, mentorship and access to safety training, women get the necessary information, exposure and confidence to embark on a field where I think they are naturally suited.”
Branch conducts presentations on the subject of women in construction safety, and she finds audiences receptive. Many who hear from her request additional information on training, internship opportunities, and necessary credentials. “Many feel the need to further their education or acquire certifications to be respected,” says Branch.
Safety certification in the field does not automatically translate into greater respect, but it has been helpful for Branch when she has needed recognition of her expertise. “I think the differences I noticed after obtaining my CSP were from employers and others within upper management,” she recalls. “Also, it validates my authority when dealing with ‘know-it-all’ types that insist on challenging my every decision or opinion.”
In addition to her presentations on women in construction, Branch conducts OSHA 10-hour and other safety and health trainings. Her promotion of safety is comprehensive. “If I can prevent the creation of, or peel away the ‘anti-safety’ mindset of an apprentice or a young person entering the field of construction I feel accomplished.”