Of all the people working in the construction industry, women only make up 10.9%. And there are even fewer on the front lines of job sites.
But women are paving their way in this male-dominated industry. One such woman is Jade Malka, the co-founder of DYM Builders Group in California. This full-service contractor works in both remodeling and new construction throughout Southern California, and has seen great growth in recent years.
Malka shares that she comes from a long line of entrepreneurs and real estate investors. Her father was an engineer, and her uncle was a real estate agent. Her grandparents always owned real estate and would sometimes flip properties. In Israel, she served as a real estate attorney for a year before working as a real estate agent in Florida for two years.
Her job in Florida made her realize that she was more interested in the construction itself than she was the real estate side of the job.
“I worked with a lot of foreign investment that basically purchased properties in order to fix and flip or fix and rent,” she comments. “And since they were foreign and lived out of state, or out of town, I had to manage the construction for them. So that’s when I realized I wanted to do construction.”
Malka says that her favorite part of her job is acting as the “house doctor,” diagnosing the problem the homeowners are having with their home and then fixing it. Remodeling houses — especially in the last two years during COVID, when more homeowners were spending time at home and finding ways to change their homes — has always been more fun for her than new construction.
“We do both [remodeling and new construction], but I like the part with the remodeling better, because you really change people’s lives,” she says.
After starting her own company, Malka found that other people in the industry were often surprised when she showed up on a job site alone, or went to a vendor to order materials. Oftentimes, people thought that she was somebody’s assistant or the wife of the contractor.
“I’d be walking into the house and they wouldn’t close the door behind me, because they didn’t understand that I’m here by myself. They always thought that I was waiting for somebody because I’m the assistant, or that I’m the designer,” she says. “And even when they hired me, they always tested me.”
She’s learned to not take the comments personally, and has found that the more confident in herself she is, the less people question her authority. Malka knows that she’s good at what she does, and as a result doesn’t field as many doubting questions from clients or other contractors.
“Slowly, slowly, because I was so focused and I had such a strong belief in what I do, they don’t ask me those questions anymore,” she shares.
Malka doesn’t get to work with other women in construction too often, but loves when she gets the opportunity. She’s worked with one of her friends, Hila Hemo, contractor at Construction by Maya in Calabasas, on several projects and hopes to continue to work together in the future.
“And it’s amazing, working with a woman is amazing because we have attention to detail. We listen to the client when he talks, we hear what he has to say,” she says. “We find that a lot of women feel a lot more comfortable when we are in the area to say their opinion, to express their opinion, to say something is wrong or not as they planned.”
DYM Builders Group also prides itself on having several women working both in the office and in the field. The team’s quality controller, who communicates between different teams and crews, is also a woman. David Malka, co-founder of DYM, notes that he’s found women to be better in supervision roles than their male counterparts.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly why there aren’t more women in the construction field. It might be breaking out of the stereotype that construction is a male-dominated field that’s hard for women. Malka notes that it’s a very time-consuming job, and women who are more responsible for taking care of the home and family might not have the time or ability to enter such a demanding industry. She says that she’s married to her work, something not all women have the ability to be.