“It has its challenges, but at the end of the day, I have a career, I have a home, and I am here in the Bayview.”
Deltrea Crayton is a laborer working for the firm MWH/Webcor, the joint venture Construction Manager/General Contractor (CM/GC), on the Biosolids Digester Facilities Project (BDFP), part of the SFPUC’s major construction renovation and upgrades to the City’s largest wastewater treatment facility, the Southeast Treatment Plant, located in Bayview-Hunters Point.
Positive Approach to Construction Work
When she began at the BDFP construction site, Crayton worked as a general laborer, helping with the excavation work, among other tasks. She was determined to prove that being a woman did not matter.
“I can do what the guys do,” she says, adding that some days she might need to prove her skills more than a man doing the same job. “No matter what, I don’t give up.”
Her approach to success as a woman in construction is a simple one. “Bring positive energy to your work, whatever it is. I mean, hey, sometimes if I can just make someone laugh, I know I did something right!”
Choosing a Career in Construction
Crayton began her career in construction many years ago at CityBuild Academy, a comprehensive pre-apprenticeship training program provided by the Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWC), which also offers a Construction Administration and Professional Services Academy (CAPSA) to local San Francisco residents.
At first, she thought about quitting. “I was building concrete barriers and learning HAZMAT (hazardous materials management) work where I had to run around the block in one of those HAZMAT suits while turning on your air. But I remembered that I wanted more for myself, so I didn’t give up.”
Once she completed her training and joined the union, her first assignment in the field was working in asbestos control and remediation, a stressful and strenuous job that she says taught her to respect other people’s trades and to remember that she doesn’t always know what other people are going through.
Born in the Mission District and then raised by her grandmother in the Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood, Crayton says early on she was a troubled teen who tried to make ends meet by working as a cook.
“After a while, I decided I wanted to make more money,” so she chose to pursue a career in the construction industry and started with CityBuild Academy for training. “I wanted to do more. I wanted to build. I wanted a career and a nest egg so I could buy a house. Now I’m here in the Bayview, working for the SFPUC, helping rebuild my community.”
Advice for Young Girls Considering Construction
When asked what advice she would give to younger women thinking about a career in construction, Crayton is clear: “Start by telling yourself that you can do anything. Don’t let outsiders talk you out of it. Whatever skills you have, just go for it. You could be an electrician, a builder, or a boss of a company.”
With a big smile and encouraging laugh, she sums up her simple formula for success in construction so far, “You gotta get your hands dirty to learn how to do the job!”