Hear from Mary Katherine Harbin and her all-female paving crew
Not only does Karsyn Looper get to work with a talented team of women on Maymead's all-female paving crew, but she gets to be trained by the best-of-the-best — her dad Tim.
Hear from Maymead employee Summer Brown talk about her role on Maymead Inc.'s all female paving crew.
But recruiting female pavers wasn’t her only challenge. Harbin also had to convince Maymead’s predominantly male workforce that a women-only crew was a good plan. It didn’t take her long to bring them around to her way of thinking.
“I’m a number’s guy,” says Wiley Roark, president of Maymead (and Mary Katherine’s father). “When Mary Katherine explained it statistically, it became apparent to me that there was a pool of people that were probably not being reached by our industry.”
Proving Themselves on the Job
Pulling together a group of women undaunted by the hard work, long hours and hot conditions of paving didn’t take long, either. Maymead’s all-female crew went to work in August 2018, just a few months after Harbin proposed the idea. After earning their stripes on the job using existing machines, they took the controls of new Cat® paving equipment marked with a special pink racer stripe.
“I was excited about coming aboard,” says Bianca Witherspoon, one of the crew members. “We’re coming together and doing something that society stereotypes as a man’s world.”
And once Maymead’s male workers saw the results the crew was delivering on the job, any hesitations they may have had about the women-only initiative went out the window.
“These ladies are doing a great job,” says Chris Barlowe, Maymead’s operations manager. “There’s nothing they can’t do and they’re proving it every day.”
Taking the First Step on a Bigger Journey
In fact, Harbin’s grandmother and vice president of Maymead, May Roark, believes there may be some good-natured competition arising between the men and women.
“It’s amazing how well they’ve taken on to it and what a good job they’re doing,” she says of the all-female crew. “Some of the men are a little jealous.”
For Harbin, establishing Maymead’s women-only crew is just one step in a much longer journey toward bringing more females into the industry.
“To be a woman in construction doesn’t mean you need to be on an all-ladies paving crew,” she says. “It means that you’re willing to show up, you’re not intimidated, you’re guaranteed a safe environment and you can do the job just like any man can.”
Perhaps, even better.
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