Regardless of how modern we are supposed to be, most construction workers consider a construction site no place for a woman, and my superintendent, Roy, seemed determined to prove just that. I knew I had taken a big chance hiring Rachel as my new project manager.
When I made it clear she would be working in a 'man's world' (which wouldn't be easy), she didn't hesitate with her answer: "I can handle anything you toss my way."
Roy, on the other hand, made her first three weeks as uncomfortable as he could, which translated to considerable discomfort for me as well. Roy was an imposing biker-type at six feet, two inches and 265 pounds, tough and knowledgeable enough to manage forty construction workers. Rachel, on the other hand, stood five-feet, four inches at maybe a hundred pounds dripping wet. I had to mediate between them several times.
Roy withheld documentation, schedules, and material requests from Rachel. If she needed something, he made her ask for it. I was well aware of what was happening. The tension between the two was palpable, and I knew a confrontation was imminent. She would need to stand up to him soon-I knew her time with us would be over if she did not.
Once, on her second week on the job, Rachel and I were inspecting the jobsite. I could see Roy was up to something again. He was rallying the troops, visiting each group of workers and making a few comments at which they all would dutifully direct meaningful glances at her. I began to think today might be Rachel's last on the job. She walked beside me, asking questions, taking notes, appearing not to have noticed.
We completed our inspection and called every ...