Increasing the Voices of Women in Male Dominated Industry - Angela Cacace - Move Over Bob

Angela Cacace


Interview from July 2020

This article features an incredible woman who is not only a fantastic carpenter and cabinet maker, but also an incredible designer, fantastic mum and down right awesome person! I spoke to Angela Cacace about her work elevating the voices of women in construction and trades careers and her experiences being a mum in a male dominated industry. 
This article is a must read! You need to hear Angela's story! #MoveOverBob

“Just go for it. I think sometimes women, myself included, we tend to want to be as prepared as possible, which is great. I think that puts us ahead of the curve sometimes and it's great to want to be prepared, but then also just like, just do it.”

 

So, first of all, your journey into steam is quite interesting. So you were originally a barber and then you found your love for carpentry during your own home renovation. And now you own a company called A.Marie Design Build. I'd love to hear more about your journey and finding the career you're now so passionate about. What steps did you take to get to where you are? And how did you know it was worth the leap? 

Yeah, so as you mentioned, I was a barber in Washington DC, for about 10 years, I've always been a bit of a, I guess, leaning into tomboy ish type thing. So, I started as cosmetology and then very quickly, I really enjoyed the challenge of, you know, working as a barber and being classically trained in that way. 

So, it's kind of interesting, because it was like dominating one male dominated profession, and then like glutton for punishment and jumped into another male dominated industry, which came about actually, with my move to North Carolina. 

So, my husband actually had got a job in Raleigh, and I stayed in Washington, DC, and kind of commuted back and forth because I had a goal in mind to purchase a home and renovate it. So accomplishes that goal. After about a year and a half of doing things long distance back and forth, I started originally talking to general contractors to do the remodel for me. I had a lot of plans and designs and all sorts of things and only after a couple of meetings with them, various men, I kind of got a bit discouraged by the lack of enthusiasm to tackle the job. 

I had always grown up with my father who did construction. He's a retired teacher, but he did construction very frequently, he was a welder for many years. So, I convinced him to help me along with the first item on the job ticket, which was to do a deck addition. He agreed and came with all of his tools. At the time he was still in Washington, DC, so he drove down to North Carolina, with all of his tools, and we tackled the deck together and I loved every minute of it, we had a really great time!
So, then I decided, I think I'm going to do the kitchen, which was the next item on the list. So, my dad who's always been very supportive and encouraging was like, “Okay, I'll leave you the tools and go for it.” So, I convinced my husband, who at the time wasn't necessarily enthused about me doing it myself because of course I would need his help on occasion. It's still funny to this day because he is not into construction, handy work stuff. He's a computer guy. So, he said my reluctantly agreed to let me go for it and I had this really sweet spot between jobs because I had just finally left that barbering job in DC so I was able to take a few months and tackle the kitchen remodel.
“It's one of those things I feel like sometimes you experience in life where you just, you just feel it, it's like this feels right, this is what I want to do. I was so happy and just completely in my element.”
So, I finished that remodel, and I guess without making this too long of a story, because my journey I guess into construction feels a bit lengthy, my husband ended up showing off a lot of the work that I did in the kitchen to one of his co-workers and so they mentioned me submitting my work to This Old House which was a popular show.

Bob Vila was the original host of the show and it's also a magazine that's very popular in America and they have a contest. So, I submitted those pictures and then I ended up winning their kitchen remodel contest, so they did a story, and they had a photo shoot, and I spoke to the editor of that magazine, and she was just amazing and really encouraging because I told her “I think I would like to do this for a living.” So, she gave me some advice for me to look into some classes. So, I did, I ended up looking into a building technologies programme in North Carolina close to where I live. And yeah, then the rest is history at this point, because I started taking those classes and just went for it. It's been amazing. 

Jessica:
Yeah, that's really cool. I love how you've gone from, like you said, one male dominated industry into another one, and you're just killing it in both. So, I really like the fact that you've said that a friend mentioned you should submit your photos for that article, and you just went for it, you did it, and then you won. I think that's a great point to just hit home that if you don't go for it, you'll never know. Even if you hadn't won, you still would have submitted, and you'd be in for a shot. So, I think it's a good thing to say, just go for it. Put yourself out for any sort of accolades, because you could potentially win, and you're not going to be in any worse position if you don't win. 

“Confidence is not that they will like you; confidence is that you're okay if they don't. So, be confident! Sometimes just realise that it doesn't mean that everyone's going to like what you're doing but being confident just means that you're okay even if other people don't like what you're doing. You know, you enjoy what you're doing, and you're proud of what you're putting out.”

 

You have a two-year-old son, how did you find having a son affected your work? 

So right around the time that I had finished up with my schooling and was going to launch my remodel business. I found out I was pregnant and initially, I was like, Oh, God, like people already think I'm crazy. Like, I just tend to do things that to other people it just sounds nuts. 

At the time, I was doing some cabinet work, it wasn't a paying gig, it was still kind of in that like, grey area that you find yourself sometimes where you're trying to prove your worth. So, I was doing this cabinet build and install, and I found out I was pregnant, and, you know, I had to come to terms with the fact that I was going to do something that was terrifying. Two things that were terrifying! Try to go out on my own and do construction and become a mom for the first time. So yeah, it was hard. 

To be honest, I'm kind of oddly private about stuff, especially if it's something I feel insecure about, so, to be 100% honest, I didn't tell a lot of people that I was pregnant. I waited. I told close friends and family, but I kind of I hid my pregnancy under my flannel shirts, because fall was around the corner, so I was able to go on with my jobs and not tell people that I was pregnant, until it was super obvious. 
“But I did it. And it was great. And I'm lucky to have really amazing people around me that I work with that made it possible for me. I worked all the way up until I was eight months pregnant. So, it was a success in that regard, I guess.”

 

You've said that you kind of tried to hide your pregnancy a little bit? Do you think there's this stigma that a woman who's pregnant or a woman who is a mother can't do as much as a woman or then as much as man?

I do. Yeah, I very much feel that. I mean, it's unfortunate, but I think there's just so many limitations. I mean, there's guilt that we put on ourselves, too. It's not everyone else putting it on. Honestly, I think some of it's very self-inflicted, but especially going into an industry like construction, where you're trying to already prove yourself, you’re just adding on another reason that somebody might put out there why women can't do it. So, yeah, for sure, there are perceived limitations. 


I completely understand how crazy life can get when you're trying to succeed in your career and trying to prove yourself as a woman in a male dominated industry, and then also be present and focused on your family. Are there any strategies that you do to help you achieve a work life balance that works for you?

I'm trying to think about immediately after, which feels like a blur of like, trying to remember a cooler and a breast pump… bottles! Just so many things that just feel like, you know, just weird. 

I guess immediately after just kind of diving in, I don't know that I had much that felt like work life balance, it was a struggle. I think it's gotten better as my sons got a bit older, he's two now. So, you know, work life balance also feels completely chaotic now with COVID, and things like that. But I guess, I think every working mum feels the guilt of not spending enough quality time with their little one. 

He's getting to that fun age, though, where it feels like we're able to do kind of share activities, like garden together and things like that. Which, for me, when I'm gardening, I'm really happy, so having time to garden has been great. So, he's getting to that age now where we get to kind of share in those tasks and do that daily routine of watering the garden and things like that. So that I feel like, that's been cool. 

So, incorporating your kids into your daily life is definitely a way to help ease that mum guilt a little bit and help get some quality time with the kids. 

You are the founder of Move Over Bob, a movement that doesn't ask men to get out of the way, but asked them to move over and make room for women in male dominated industries. Could you tell me more about what prompted you to start this movement? How has it evolved over time? And where it's going to in the future? 

Yeah, so I started moving over Bob after my first day of class. It was a one of the carpentry classes and I showed up and I was terrified, right? Because I didn't know what to expect. And I got there and there were 12 students in the class and six of the students were women and it was like, we were all standing around. I was just looking and we all kind of like, “for real, there's this many of us?” It was really exciting. It was so relieving, like, here we are… in half of the class. You know, of course, we had to call that out because I think everybody was a bit surprised. I think at that time the teacher was saying he had never had that many women in one of his classes. So, it was really cool. 

So, I went home, and I got on my Facebook, and I just kind of made a funny post. I was like, fun fact, half the people in my construction class are women and then I joked with the hashtag, #moveOverBob. It was also play on Bob the Builder and then I also Bob Vila from This Old House. So, it was just a joke to say “Hey, women are here, we are showing up. So, make some room because here we are.” So, the posts did really well. 
“It was women, didn't matter what industry they were in, every female friend of mine liked it and was just so excited because it feels empowering to know that there are women in male dominated industry.”
So, from there, I was like, there's got to be more of us, you know, and I'm really big on trying to pay homage to people before me, people who paved the way.  You know, there were six women in that class because of women before us that made us feel comfortable to go for it, right? And so, at the time, I had gotten Instagram and so I thought okay, this was back in 2017 that I decided to do the Instagram account, and it felt like a great platform to not only find women to find this image that I think, is really inspirational. Kind of normalise the image of women in male dominated industry. 

It was a great opportunity I felt to bring more exposure than any exposure I could give, and to thank them for paving the way. And so really, that's how it started and to this day, it's still doing exactly that. It's just finding really amazing women and just trying to do my part to like, scream from the rooftops, like, here they are, they're awesome, go follow them, go do this, and it's been really great. 

The hashtag itself has done really well. I think one of my favourite things about the hashtag is how much people will take ownership of it themselves. I really love that it feels very associated with the actual movement, and because I made a conscious effort, you don't really see me on the page much. It's because I really would like people to think of the movement and the community behind it. It's just been a really fun, just been a fun way to get the message out and to connect. 

We're actually launching a website to further this mission of just trying to get more attention to women and their stories and give women another outlet for a platform to promote their cause and everything they're doing from, companies that have launched a podcast they host to blogs they write, to companies they lead, all sorts of things, and just keeping it quite simple in the same regard as the Instagram. We're going to have editorial stories, and we're going to have op eds, written by industry leaders. It has been so much fun and so inspirational. It's just growing like crazy. I mean, it's great.

I think it's a really great thing that you're helping to pave that way for more women in the future. Hopefully one day, they'll just be industries and not male dominated industries. So, do you have any advice for women who want to make a change in their career and jump into a male dominated industry? 

My advice… let's see. 
  • Don't be shy to reach out to people. You know, you won't always get necessarily someone who will take the time, but you most definitely will, at some point. So don't hesitate to reach out and try to get advice. 
  • Don't be nervous that men aren't there to make room. You know, I think one of the pleasant surprises I experienced was there are plenty of men that aren’t welcoming of it, but there are also a tonne of men that are perfectly happy to make a little bit of room and to gain a better understanding of how to be accommodating, and an ally in their industry. 
  • Just go for it. I think sometimes women, myself included, we tend to want to be as prepared as possible, which is great. I think that puts us ahead of the curve sometimes and it's great to want to be prepared, but then also just like, just do it.
  • Don't be afraid to learn as you go. You know, I think it's intimidating to make mistakes when you feel out of place but don't worry about it. Just go for it. 

Lastly, do you have any advice for women who would like to have children but are concerned it will have too much of an impact on their career? 

Hmm, I don't want this to cause marital problems or anything but hold your partner accountable. You know, try to approach it as, it's a team thing. I'm fortunate, I have a partner who is very supportive and does understand that it's a team effort. So, if you have a partner who lives with you, or whether you're with or without your partner, just don't be afraid to stand up for yourself and say, this is something I'd like to do and I think I can do it and I feel like I should be able to do it. 

I know for myself sometimes, because of this guilt complex or something, but I get in my own way. So, I think if you're fortunate enough to be able to step up and say, “Hey, I don't need to do this by myself, I can do this.” And you encourage your partner to realise it, that this is a team thing that you guys can do together.  It's a hard topic.

I'm so glad that you're doing this podcast. And I love that your focus is on helping more women who are mothers realise and strike that balance. I think what you're doing is extremely important, because, by no means do I feel like an expert in that arena, and I'm so happy to hear all of the women on your podcast and hear your advice and learn how you guys are doing it because it is really hard. Yeah. So yeah, this is directly why this podcast has to exist.

Jessica:
I don't claim to be an expert by any means and you're exactly right. I'm also fortunate to have a fantastic husband as well. I have a good example of exactly what you’re saying.

I condensed my full-time hours to be over four days a week so that I could have three days off with my daughter, because that helps me to find my balance that works for me. So, I do 7:30 to 5:30, Monday to Thursday. By the time I finished work, pick up my daughter and get home, it's close to six o'clock. She is usually starving hungry, and she need to be in bed by seven. I was finding it difficult to get home and cook dinner, eat, bath her, and put her to bed. 

I mentioned it to my husband that I was just feeling a bit stressed out like I can't fit it all in one day. He finishes work and gets home usually before 4:00 and he was happy to just start cooking dinner. So, now I get home and dinner is cooked or is just about being served up on the table. We can all sit down as a family and relax after a big busy day and eat dinner together. Then I do the dishes and clean the kitchen while he sits with my daughter while she has a bath. It was just so much more of a collaborative environment, and it was such a relief. All I had to do was ask for a bit of help.  

Yeah, it's true. I think sometimes there are horrible men out there but there are also men, like husbands and co-workers, that are willing to help and I think sometimes it's just a matter of saying “Hey, I really want to do this” or “make room.” In the parenting cases just say “pick up some slack here and do some stuff.” 

I think sometimes we as mothers and as women, put a lot of stress on ourselves and I think we underestimate men, sometimes a little bit as well in terms of how much they're going to support us. So, I think allow them to show that support and ask for help if you need it. Don't expect them to just help straight away without asking for help, they can’t read minds. Sometimes it takes a little bit, but well, they haven't been conditioned their whole lives, right? The way we have. Conditioned to care for people, to cook for people, do all the things, but if you give them a little bit of a nudge, they're happy to help more often than not. Don't underestimate your partner and just ask for a little bit of help.


Check out more about Move Over Bob at the website! 







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