D-Mar General Contracting Confronts Gender Discrimination and Sexual Harassment Against Women in Construction

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Amid reports of sexual harassment and gender discrimination in the construction industry, Doreen DiPolito of D-Mar General Contracting and Development advocates for expanded opportunities and a better work environment for women in construction.

Doreen DiPolito of D-Mar General Contracting and Development advocates for expanded opportunities and a better work environment for women in construction.

The construction industry offers well-paying jobs to skilled laborers, and it could present a promising career path for women seeking alternatives to lower-paid, traditionally female-dominated roles.

Despite a strong female presence in today’s workforce, recent reports reveal that women in construction still face challenges, including gender discrimination and sexual harassment. In response to these findings, Doreen DiPolito—owner and president of D-Mar General Contracting and Development in Tampa Bay, Florida—continues to advocate for a better work environment and improved job opportunities for women in construction.

According to a report published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) last month, women make up 47% of the U.S. labor force; yet of the 7.1 million workers employed in construction and extraction occupations, only 2.6% are women. (1) Furthermore, the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) noted that women fill just 2.2% of federal construction apprenticeship programs, with female apprentices exhibiting fairly high rates of attrition: 51% left construction apprenticeships, while a full 70% left carpenter apprenticeships. (2)

The NWLC report cited harassment, discrimination, and a hostile work environment as key factors contributing to the low percentage of women in construction jobs, apprenticeships and education programs. One government study noted that female construction workers had the second-highest rate of sexual harassment complaints (behind female miners), with 88% of women in construction experiencing some form of sexual harassment. (3) And despite federal laws prohibiting gender discrimination and sexual harassment, current news stories indicate that these issues remain ongoing. As an example, one construction company recently agreed to pay nearly $1 million to settle a discrimination and harassment case involving 371 women and minorities. (4)

“The construction industry offers well-paying jobs to skilled laborers, and it could present a promising career path for women seeking alternatives to lower-paid, traditionally female-dominated roles,” said DiPolito. “It’s frustrating that harassment and discrimination have led many women to forgo lucrative construction and contracting jobs; however, these challenges have only bolstered my commitment to supporting women in construction and providing more opportunities for them.”

DiPolito began her career in mechanical engineering, but transitioned into construction when asked to assist with D-Mar, her former in-laws’ general contracting business. She subsequently earned certification as a Florida General Contractor and later went on to become president and owner of the company. Today, D-Mar General Contracting and Development has made strides on behalf of women in construction by earning Women’s Business Enterprise certification from the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC); Women/Minority Business Enterprise (WMBE) certification from the City of Tampa; and Minority, Women and Service-Disabled Veteran Business Certification from the Florida Office of Supplier Diversity (OSD).

D-Mar recently completed the successful re-conversion of a Hess gas station that will serve as the model for a three-year rebrand project under Marathon’s Speedway. Hess Express #9448 at 11800 66th Street in Largo, Florida, was the latest in a number of construction and contracting jobs DiPolito and her team have completed for Hess since 1984. Additionally, D-Mar is notable for its previous work with other national franchises, such as Dunkin’ Donuts and Circle K.

Beyond her professional work in residential development and commercial building, DiPolito is actively involved with numerous cultural, civic and charitable organizations. As a member of the Hammer & Heels giving circle, she recently contributed money, materials and time to the Girl PowerHouse project. Together with fellow female volunteers, she demonstrated the skill and capability of women in construction by building a new home for a single mother.

“I’ve seen first-hand what women are capable of accomplishing in this field. Not only have I collaborated with highly trained and skilled females in a professional capacity, but I’ve also been impressed by the dedication and handiwork of the volunteers I worked alongside with on the Girl PowerHouse,” said DiPolito.

DiPolito maintains that the potential success of women in construction is largely dependent upon the industry giving them the support and opportunities needed to thrive.

To learn more about D-Mar General Contracting and Development and owner Doreen DiPolito, visit http://www.d-mar.com.

About D-Mar General Contracting and Development:

Founded in 1972 in Clearwater, Florida, D-Mar has evolved from a family-run general contracting business into a full-service construction and remodeling firm renowned for its efficient and cost-effective services. Under the leadership of owner and president Doreen DiPolito, the company has expanded its offerings to include commercial development, construction management, large-scale interior build-outs, and site development. D-Mar has completed successful projects for such well-known franchise brands as Hess, Dunkin’ Donuts and Circle K, and has attained certification as a Minority Business Enterprise and Women’s Business Enterprise. In addition to her professional achievements as a Certified General Contractor and business owner, DiPolito gives back to the community by serving as the Clearwater City Council Vice Mayor and on the boards of local cultural, civic and charitable organizations. For more information, visit http://www.d-mar.com.

1. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Women in the Labor Force: A Databook; December 2014; page 32. bls.gov/opub/reports/cps/women-in-the-labor-force-a-databook-2014.pdf.

2. National Women’s Law Center. Women in Construction: Still Breaking Ground; June 11, 2014. nwlc.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/final_nwlc_womeninconstruction_report.pdf.

3. Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health, Department of Labor. Women in the Construction Workplace: Providing Equitable Safety and Health Protection; June 1999; accessed January 14, 2015. osha.gov/doc/accsh/haswicformal.html.

4. U.S. Department of Labor. “Fort Myer Construction Will Pay $900K to Settle Discrimination and Harassment Case Involving 371 Women and Minorities”; press release issued September 17, 2014; accessed January 14, 2015. dol.gov/opa/media/press/ofccp/OFCCP20141513.htm.

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