Name: Alice Allen
Company currently working for: Nexius
Job name/Title: QA/QC Inspector
How did you get started in the tower industry? In 1997, I met a tower crew that was working in my hometown of Huntington, WV. I was able to watch them stack a couple of towers and was instantly fascinated so I asked about a job. Apparently, there was some doubt as to whether or not I could climb so they were instructed to take me up a tower. The foreman and I found a tower, climbed to around 50′, and I looked at him and said, “Okay, now what?” The next thing I know, I was on a plane for Atlanta, Georgia, and the rest, they say, is history.
How long have you been climbing? On and off for 19 years.
Biggest like/dislike about it? My biggest like is the people that I’ve met along the way. I’ve established some wonderful friendships over the years (and even met my husband) because of this industry. I love listening to people’s stories – who they are, where they came from, and what made them start climbing. When you spend weeks on the road with people, they transform from coworkers to family. I’ve been there as relationships have blossomed and even crumbled to divorce. I’ve listened to a coworker weep for a loved one who just passed and even sat in a truck with a fella as we listened to his child be born over 1,300 miles away.
My biggest dislike is the disconnect between corporations and the reality of the field, especially with regards to safety and structural integrity.
Do you feel accepted by largely male crews or has it been a struggle? For the most part, absolutely. There will always be sexism, especially in the construction trades, but tenacity and an outspoken personality is fundamental in this industry. Simply put – I’m here so deal with it. 🙂
Would you recommend this industry to other women and if so what would you warn them about? Yes and have not only recommended tower work to several women, I’ve hired several myself. It takes a very special kind of woman to do this type of work – confident, independent, strong-willed, intelligent. You can’t be shy, either. Be prepared to pee in the woods and yes, you will get your period on the tower. You will no longer have personal space whether it’s while you are trying to get that stubborn 12′ microwave antenna secured to the tower leg or when you’re crammed into a dirty work truck. You will smell and so will everyone else around you. Be prepared to work from sunup to sundown in all types of weather. Keep your nails short, you hair up, and your skin thick.
Have you had any unusual experiences while climbing or at tower site? We worked at a site in south Chicago that was not only the scene of a recent murder (complete with memorial), it had also been a drug distribution center for the locals. We found out the history of our site from a member of the Chicago S.W.A.T. team as they searched our work truck for a discarded firearm of a man they had just arrested. Good times.
Published August 7, 2017