5 June 2012


“Are you the only woman on the job site? Does isolation cause you to despair? There are steps that you can take.” 

I feel so isolated here but I can’t really give up my job – the money is too good.”

Isolation is a terrible thing and it can lead to all kinds of problems in the workplace. Isolation can even impact our mental health and cause you to disengage. To promote your own well-being, it is essential that you take steps to ensure that you remain connected. We all need a support system in life. If your employer does not seemed concerned, you can take control of your situation.

There is always the option of connecting with like minded men. Don’t assume that they’re “all alike” – that’s stereotyping. Some of my greatest supporters in life have been like minded men. As a dirt bike enthusiast, I shared a common bond with my male counterparts as we came together to share in the fun of our sport. Hobbies in common are often referred to as the great leveler – a passion for something removes barriers to communication. Biking is a great example, people from all walks of life share that passion – learn to connect based on common interests.

You may not feel you have a lot in common with the women who work in more traditional roles in the office but if you’re a mom – that shared interest gives you a common footing for a wonderful conversation and maybe a friendship. Differences become less obvious when we find something in common. Regardless of our profession, we share common challenges and dreams as parents – connect with other parents to build relationships in the workplace.

If you work on a large work site, chances are that there are women around from other trades who are feeling isolated also. Seek them out and find creative ways to connect. Your employer has an interest in ensuring that employees remain engaged – request that you be allowed network time – make it sound like a win/win solution which is exactly what it is . Employee engagement is an employer responsibility and employees are more engaged when they are feeling connected.  Evidence shows that it also leads to increased in productivity.

Find networks outside of your place of work  - connect with other trade organizations to see if the women want to get together to form a social network. If you’re a member of the Carpenter’s Union, call up other unions and ask them to connect you with like minded women – you may be surprised at the similarities in your stories. If there is a local trades school in the area, form a network of women who are taking trades training.

I know what you’re thinking – it takes a special set of skills to network, negotiate and ask for what you want. Developing these forms of communication will serve you well and build your confidence – leaders are great communicators – stretch yourself. Isolation can often be a choice as well as a risk factor. Take steps to ensure you don’t allow yourself to fall into the trap.