Women Can Do That!

Bryant Black

Director, Workforce Development
Greater Houston Partnership

Some things you never forget, and others maybe you wish you could. But the day I learned that our world believed careers had gender is one that is etched in my mind forever. It was a Sunday in Scottsdale, Arizona, when I was 11 years old. I wanted to be a police detective and told my dad about my career dream. He quickly marched me over to one of our fellow churchgoers and instructed him to say to me that girls are not cops. He was attending church in his police uniform, and it was awkward. While my dad was probably correct in his assessment that detective work would not be great for me in the long run, his tactic lit the fire in my heart to level and eliminate the stereotypes. 

I’m pretty sure my dad was shocked when I decided to drive a semi across the nation and more astonished when he watched me parallel park one. I wasn’t particularly suited to that lifestyle either, as there are not many people to talk to in the cab of your truck, and well, I love words. Dad might have been proud but secretly a little upset when I was ordained as a chaplain, and he was thankful I was not actually pastoring a church. My dad is from a different generation where women and men were more separated, and jobs had gender assignments, so I don’t blame him. In the totality of my story, he will always be the one who was my best and loudest cheerleader.

Thankfully, I live in a world where women can be anything. This month is all about women in history, women in construction, and the icons who are the trailblazers of history. Last week we celebrated Women In Construction. It was a blast. NAWIC Houston rocked the town from Sunday to Saturday highlighting and amplifying the successes of women. But it wasn’t just Houston. With over 130 chapters in the US and 6 international delegations, NAWIC is making a difference for women’s issues in construction. I’m glad that in 1953 some men had the foresight to encourage the group of women in their employment to organize a movement that has been integral in elevating women in the industry.

In eight days, #SHEbuildsHouston will show about 1500 young women from Aldine and Spring Branch ISDs how construction might be their game changer. During WIC week, I told the story of how #SHEbuilds became my passion, and I figure you might want to know, too.

In our community, there is a thing called generational welfare motherhood. I was introduced to that concept by the Aldine CTE leadership in 2019. I came to understand that this mentality led very capable and bright young women to believe their best pathway after high school was to work until they had children and went on welfare. The more children, the better the benefits. Robert Thomas, former CTE community partnership director for Aldine ISD, challenged me to create a way for the young women of Aldine to see a different future. “One family that changes, Angela, will be a ripple for the community. It can break generational poverty and start families on a different path. They just need to see options and explore. Nobody gives them an opportunity to discover. We must change that. “

I couldn’t say no when I knew he was right. My path had been altered so many times by exposure. My police officer dream didn’t die on that Sunday in Scottsdale. I laid it down willingly after the police ride-along my dad and the school arranged for me. Three days into a five-day ride, I realized I was not cut out for that job. If nobody let me ride with them, I wouldn’t have given up on being a cop, and I would never have found my way to this desk, this cause, and this industry. And from my point of view, that would have been tragic. Maybe construction won’t be the exposure every girl needs to find a way forward, but it will be for some.

In the long run, each of us has the power to change the life of another simply by sharing our experiences and letting them ride along with us. I hope you visit #SHEbuildsHouston if you aren’t planning to be there already. I promise it will inspire you and make you proud to call construction home. Together, we build the future.  

Have Questions About Partnering with C3?

Reach out to us for assistance.