Women in Painting

Growing up, Cassandra Pace was surrounded by the world of painting. Her father was the owner of a family-run painting business, which gave her opportunities to earn money during her summer breaks in high school.

“I knew that it was a good way to earn money, but off the bat I hated painting,” Pace said. “It was something that I never wanted to do and I never really knew why. I think it was just all the dirty prep work and there’s a lot of hard work that goes into painting.”

After high school, Pace went to college to study criminal justice. Soon after, she received a job working at a juvenile home.

“I just hated the hours, missing Christmases, Easter, Thanksgiving with my family,” Pace said. “It was a constant type of field because I was working in a locked facility, so there has to be someone there at all times.”

Pace’s father recognized that she was not enjoying her job, so he offered her a position at his company. She quickly told her father that she refused to do any of the site painting, but would be interested in the paperwork portion.

“My dad was really struggling at the time keeping up with the paperwork and I already had all the background of knowing how to, so it was a good compromise,” Pace said.

Pace has found that she favors the paperwork portion because she enjoys building relationships with others and being at the forefront of the company. As long as she is not constantly painting everyday, she is fine with helping on the job every once in a while.

By 2016, Pace had become the owner of the company, ready to take over for her father, but it wasn’t until 2017 that she became the official face of the company.

“At first my male coworkers did not take my change in position very well,” Pace said.
“In their eyes, I was this little girl trying to make it in the construction world.”

Pace remembers it taking a long time to build up trust amongst co-workers, especially the men, after her switch in position. She had to prove that she was the right person for the job and that she knew what she was talking about.

Though dealing with the doubt was challenging, Pace was able to push past and focus on maintaining a better mindset.

“I love it when people doubt me, I love it so much because it just makes me want to do better every single time,” Pace said.

Pace recalls a time when her father and her were working on painting a bedroom at a clients’ house. When she and her father arrived, Pace was met with a judgmental look from the female homeowner.

“She looked at my dad and asked if he was gonna have me help, to which my dad responded yes,” Pace said. “And she was like, I don’t want to be the guinea pig house. Because I was a woman, she automatically assumed that I didn’t know what I was doing.”

Pace then realized that working in a male-dominated profession didn’t only come with the unfortunate discrimination from men, but women as well.

“I think that either side of the discrimination, no matter who you are, It’s unacceptable, but I guess when it comes from a woman it is a little bit more baffling,” Pace said.

Not only has the unfortunate discriminataion occurred with clients and co-workers, but as well as from people she has never been acquainted with.

Pace remembers one instance while she was out at a gas station to grab a drink during her lunch break. Since she had just come from working a paint job, she did have splotches of paint across her outfit.

“This guy at the gas station was telling me that I was too pretty to be painting and how I needed to get an office job, so apparently my looks identify what I’m supposed to be doing in my life,” Pace said. “His comment was definitely uncalled for and it definitely was not a compliment.”

Though it is very challenging as a woman working in a male-dominated field, Pace has found role models in her life that help her to keep going, one of these role models being her father.

“I always knew that my dad worked really hard and he would get home too late and I knew that it was stressful on him,” Pace said. “He pushes me out of my comfort zone, which is how you make mistakes and you grow and you learn.”

Another role model of Pace’s is a friend of hers who has been an apiary of construction almost her whole life.

“She has always told me to never ever stand down to a man and to never let them make you feel less because you are worthy,” Pace said. “Having her in my corner, while the whole company was evolving, it was really refreshing to have that encouragement because it was intimidating at times, and it still can be.”

Pace has worked hard to learn from her role models and become a role model for others as well. She encourages her workers to show up to work everyday caring about what they are doing, for she sees no point in doing something that is meaningless to you.

Pace hopes that by encouraging and representing the women in painting, it will help bring more and more women into the profession.

“Our voices matter, our work ethic matters, we all matter in the construction industry,” Pace said.