Flourishing in a Male-Dominated Industry

Women in Landscaping

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Like the construction industry, landscaping has long been a man’s world. According to Zippia, the landscaper workforce reached a whopping 381,044 in 2020 and only 10.3% of them are women. This number has fluctuated over the past 5 years but, for the most part, hovers around 10%.

Then and Now

How has the industry changed over the years?

Laura Osberghaus was drawn to the landscape industry because she loved plants. Her first job was at the growing range for a local wholesale floral grower. She sees more women joining the green industry than there were 20 years or so ago when she completed her design degree. She believes there are more opportunities for women in landscaping today. “Women are capable of any position in the industry,” Laura said. She also noticed more women taking the initiative to carve their own career paths and to network and mentor women coming out of school.

More women own landscape businesses, and it is having a positive impact in attracting more women to the industry. Laura added, “Women have multiple life goals. Landscaping provides the flexibility to achieve those goals and have a career.”

Jennifer Johnson originally began her studies in landscape architecture. Her focus shifted to a more holistic, sustainable design approach in horticulture such as “right plant, right place” when she realized she loved dealing with clients and finding appropriate solutions for their commercial landscapes. In joining the horticulture program, with a specialization in landscape contracting, she found herself in classes where males outnumbered the females. Fortunately, she always found respect among her colleagues.

With the social movement of the last decade, she sees a positive change in how women are treated. “It is good to see more women in the landscape care/maintenance industry in a variety of roles,” Jennifer said. “It’s great to see those women providing support, feedback, and networking in an effort to promote solid careers in the green industry.”

Labor shortage spells opportunity

Across the country, finding quality labor is a top concern in the landscaping industry. In response, some companies are asking how they can better market themselves to one half of the labor force: women.

Our challenge as an industry is to create a positive work environment for everyone while reaching out to those who may never have considered joining the landscaping profession.

Southview Design has a number of women in the field and in the office, in roles ranging from Landscape Architect to crew member to Director of Marketing and Business Development. We make sure to nurture budding talent through internships and scholarship programs to give new folks a leg up in the industry.

Man and woman working outside

How do women find their way into the field?

Many make the jump from recreational gardening to becoming professionals in the field. Others knew working outside was their destiny and pursued their education in horticulture or landscape architecture.

Woman wearing a construction vest.

Self-Taught Professional

Maria Ortega has only been with Southview Design since 2015 but has been in the landscape industry for 10+ years. She works in Enhancements on residential and commercial projects creating seasonal displays, planting fresh color at a client’s home or at the entry of a commercial property. It’s the beauty in the transformation Maria enjoys and why she continues to work in the industry. Maria has no formal training in the landscape industry. Everything she knows has been learned on the job.

Woman wearing Southview Design gear, hat, and glasses in the Southview garage.

Arianne Sjodahl originally started as a field crew worker and now works Accounts Payable.

Climbing the Ladder

Arianne Sjodahl joined Southview Design in 2018 as an Enhancement Supervisor-in-training where she managed her own crew. They completed several smaller landscape projects every day, such as sod replacement, mulching, or creating and planting seasonal displays. Her greatest satisfaction at the end of the day was seeing the transformation in a landscape after she and her crew finished a landscape upgrade.

Today, you can find her sitting at her computer in the office where she works directly with clients and overseeing their accounts.

On the left, Sarah Kickert as an intern in 2017. Just a few short years later, she is thriving as a Landscape Care Sales Associate.

Building off of an Internship

Sarah Kickert interned at Southview Design in the summer of 2017. In 2019, Sarah graduated from North Dakota State University with a B.S. in Horticulture and minored in Landscape Architecture. Sarah also joined Southview Design as a Design Associate in 2019. It didn’t take long for her to make her mark in design/build.

In 2021, she now works as a Landscape Care Sales Associate. She still designs but is now working toward an Enhancement Sales position. Sarah has quickly become proficient in 3D render software and is MNLA Certified.

Southview Design intern in the heavy equipment garage.

Intern Update: Where is Chantel Dowell now?

In 2019, Chantel Dowell interned for Southview Design while studying environmental planning and conservation at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. During her time at Southview, she spent some time in the field which was her first time in construction/installation. Fast forward to 2021, Chantel is a few months away from graduating with her bachelor's, majoring in conservation. After graduation, she'll accept a full-time job in the horticulture industry as a community outreach coordinator for Green Valley Greenhouse. She hopes to be able to enrich people’s lives with plants and bring my conservation and landscaping experience together!

Her advice to other interns or employees going into the field “Hours are long so start slow and pay attention. The more comfortable you become with the tasks at hand, the more responsibility you’ll have.”

In any industry there are always trailblazers who break the door open for others. It’s up to us to keep that door propped open for those who wish to follow.

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