“You’ve come a long way, baby.” For some readers, that reference is instantaneously recognized as a proverb of women’s liberation that, odd as it may seem, was the brainchild of Madison Avenue and crafted as the tagline of a then-new cigarette brand marketed to women in 1968.

While smoking may no longer be chic — according to the CDC, in 1970, about 33% of adult women smoked; today, that number has dropped to 11% — the catchphrase developed by Leo Burnett for Virginia Slims still captures the zeitgeist of women ascendency.

Virginia-SIn 1968, advertising agency Leo Burnett developed its first tag line for Virginia Slims, a new cigarette marketed toward women. (Print ads from the 1970s featured.)Today marks 113 years the world has celebrated “International Women’s Day” on March 8; the date was more fluid in the United States until 1980 when then-President Jimmy Carter signed a proclamation declaring “the week of March 8” as “National Women’s History Week.”

The strides women have made economically, culturally, and professionally have been hard-fought, if not necessarily linear. Still, they are tangible and quantifiable. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women now comprise approximately 47% of the labor market, up nearly 60% from 1950. The thrust of that growth occurred as the Women’s Liberation Movement gained steam during the late 1960s and through the 1970s.

Those numbers are not as dramatic within the roofing industry and its related subfields, but gains have been made nonetheless. The National Roofing Contractors Association says that in 2019, women made up approximately 2% of roofing's labor force, which is one point more than a decade prior. While not dramatic, gains over losses remain a benchmark of improvement. In the mid-1990s, women made up less than 0.5% of the roofing labor force, according to a historical market analysis by the Labor Department. The BLS says in 2022, there were 131,980 roofing professionals in the U.S., which means nearly 13,200 of those individuals were women. While not overwhelming, it is now double the number during the Clinton administration. 

Besides being a traditionally male-dominated field, roofing also faces pay disparities for women, like every other industry nationwide. According to a report by the American Association of University Women published in 2022, on average, women earn 83 cents for every dollar a man earns; a figure that has shown only marginal improvement over the past decade. 

So, yes, ladies, you have come a long way, and while there's more progress to be made, the victories are worth celebrating.

In honor of International Women’s Day, Roofing Supply Pro has combed through a year’s worth of news, features and videos to bring you some of the highlights. The lineup is in no particular order; each illustrates how much road has been gained since 1994. 

Happy 113th International Women’s Day, and yes, you have come a long way, ma’am!

WOMEN IN THE NEWS . . . . . . .

Beacon's Top 5 Candidates for 2023 Female Roofing Professional of the Year

Item 2 - Beacon-Women-Pros-2023-Image.pngBeacon Building Products announced its top five 2023 Female Roofing Professional of the Year candidates. The winner received the $10,000 grand prize; the four finalists each received $1,000. Last year's winner, Michelle Ly Hall, co-owner of Hall Roofing and Construction, was later featured in a Roofing Contractor magazine profile, which we included and is a few articles down.

NWiR, Actor Meg Ryan Highlight Roofing Career Opportunities for Women

Meg Ryan Video.jpgNational Women in Roofing gained national attention with a Fox Business video hosted by Meg Ryan, highlighting the meaningful opportunities available to women in the roofing industry, with insights from industry leaders like Sarah Weiss and Renae Bales emphasizing the increasing role of women and the diverse career paths within the field.

Elizabeth Kent Watson Facilitates Family Togetherness at Roofing Tools & Equipment

3 - Watson-RTE-1123.jpgWatson's journey from part-time helper to vice president at Roofing Tools & Equipment underscores the resilience and dedication required in the roofing industry, where family legacy and hard work go hand in hand. Despite initial hesitations and stereotypes, her commitment to excellence and customer service has propelled her career and her family's business, exemplifying the true spirit of leadership and perseverance in a male-dominated field.

Ashley Finneran Shifts into Gear as SRS Distribution’s First Female Transportation Instructor

4 - Ashley-SRS.jpgAfter earning a psychology degree and gaining valuable experience at McDonald’s, Finneran found her passion for empowering others, leading her to a supply and distribution career. Through perseverance and mentorship, she became the first female instructor at SRS Distribution’s Transportation University, breaking barriers and inspiring others to pursue their goals in male-dominated fields.

Roofing Distributor Julie Davis is the ‘Dealers Choice’

5 - Dealers Choice TOF.jpgDavis found unexpected success in roofing distribution, securing substantial orders after 35 years in the business at Dealers Choice. Reflecting on her journey from data entry to inside sales, she navigated industry changes, including increased female representation and technological advancements. Davis emphasizes the importance of communication and teamwork in weathering supply shortages and ensuring customer satisfaction.

Terri Taylor’s Quarter-Century Trek Toward Good Governance

6 - Terri-Taylor-MacArthur-Co.jpgTaylor shares her thoughts on leadership and teamwork as a national residential division manager at MacArthur Co., leveraging her hands-on approach and industry knowledge to foster strong customer relationships. With a background in two-step distribution and a commitment to service, she navigates competition by prioritizing client satisfaction and emphasizing the importance of genuine engagement in business dealings.

Amanda Wigchert of Elite Roofing Supply Loves 'Chaos'

7 - RSP-Profile_Amanda---TOF.jpgWigchert, an inside sales representative at Elite Roofing Supply, thrives in a bustling environment. She says she leverages her background in behavioral health to build genuine customer relationships. Despite initially lacking experience in roofing, her adaptable approach and dedication have propelled her career forward as she pursues a bachelor's degree and envisions long-term growth with the company.

Profile: Michelle Ly Hall, The Right Adjustment

Image 7 - MichelleLy-30-900x550.jpgMichelle Ly Hall, co-owner of Hall Roofing and Construction, challenges stereotypes in the roofing industry by personally conducting roof inspections. She confronts skepticism with professionalism and expertise. Despite initial surprise, she embraces the opportunity to change perceptions and has earned recognition as the 2023 "Female Roofing Professional of the Year," highlighting her commitment to excellence and community involvement.

VIDEO . . . . . . .

Empowering Women, Allies at NWiR Day 2024

8 - NWiR_Keegan.jpgNational Women in Roofing Day 2024 in Las Vegas was another success for the organization, helping to bring women into various folds of the roofing industry. In this interview with RSP Publisher Jill Bloom, NWiR Executive Committee Chair Jennifer Keegan discusses the success of the International Roofing Expo’s three-day event last year in Dallas and her hopes ahead of the most recent IRE last month in Las Vegas. Keegan touches on the themes ahead of the 2024 expo, including increased diversity in the audience, allies and advocates, and a Spanish language session for attendees.  

To learn more about International Women's Day, visit internationalwomensday.com.