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May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month

RCS Asian American Pacific /Islander Heritage Month
May 18, 2021 at 2:00 p.m.

By Cass Jacoby, RCS Reporter.  

The roofing industry celebrates diversity and the heritage of those who have shaped the community for the better. 

With anti-Asian hate crimes increasing nearly 150% in 2020, there has never been a more relevant time to celebrate and acknowledge Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. Asian/Pacific is a rather broad term, encompassing all of the Asian continent and the Pacific islands of Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia. The AAPI population represents over 30 ethnic groups and speaks over 300 languages and dialects. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 22.9 million Asians and Pacific Islanders resided in America in 2019.  

May was chosen as the commemorative month because it marks the immigration of the first Japanese people to the United States on May 7, 1843. Additionally, May marks the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869, where a majority of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have shaped the history of our country and have had their lives dramatically altered by our country; their stories and experiences are integral to the fabric of the United States.  

AAPI women account for a small population in the construction industry in the U.S., which is why National Women in Roofing’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee is featuring outstanding AAPI women who have bettered the construction community. This May, National Women in Roofing features interviews with Leah Dougherty, commercial excellence for Johns Manville and Sarah Schneider, Cool Roof Rating Council deputy director.  

Leah speaks to the pivotal role women have played in her life, telling NWiR, “Both my Mom and birth mother have been essential in developing me to who I am. My mom has been incredible in coaching me to be a strong (physically, emotionally, intellectually) adult. It has never mattered to her that I look different than her and have made my own path in life – she has always been so supportive of this.”  

Similarly, Sara has been inspired and motivated by her mom, “My mom emigrated from Japan in 1976. She came to the U.S. by herself and spoke not one word of English. Over the past 45 years, my mom has overcome so many struggles and barriers as a woman, a foreigner and a single mother of two. She has persevered and flourished despite the challenges that have been thrown at her, and that is extremely inspiring to me. She is the strongest woman I know and a bona fide badass.” 

Not only have their families supported them, but they inspired them and normalized their role within the roofing industry, which has galvanized these women to be advocates for growth and be a force of good within the industry.  

Sarah told NWiR, “As a biracial woman in an industry historically dominated by white men, I spent the first couple years feeling like I needed to justify my presence while proving that I was qualified for the job. I tended to shy away from opportunities and didn’t always let myself celebrate the progress and growth I was making. I realize now that that line of thinking is flawed, damaging and counterproductive.” 

Leah similarly has become a major advocate for women in the industry, she told NWiR, “I think it’s important to be actively supportive and encouraging of women in the industry, in all roles – actively thinking about interactions with women coming into the industry and taking wisdom from women who have been working a long time. As I’ve heard a lot – this industry is all about relationships, and I think it’s no different here. It’s these small steps that help to create sustainable and real change.”  

Stay up to date with the latest roofing industry news when you sign up for the RCS Week in Roofing e-news. 



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