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What the Superintendent Profession Needs Is a Few Good Women

Forest Hills

women supers
Feb. 16, 2017

A key to the recent turnaround at the Wainwright condominium in Forest Hills, Queens, was the hiring of a new super – or, more accurately, new supers, the husband-wife team of Toni and Lena Bojaj. While women supers have become more common in New York City co-ops and condos in recent years, the professional is still dominated by men. But that may be changing.

Peter Grech, who teaches a certification course for building supers at City University of New York (CUNY), has had women students in the past, but said that for the first time he can remember he has two 20-something, American-born women in the class, Metro reports. Of about 3,000 supers who belong to the building service workers union 32BJ SEIU, only a few dozen are women. But there are also some women among the thousands of non-union supers.

A survey conducted by Grech, who is also director of education at the Superintendents Technical Association, found that there were only about 80 known female supers in their network. He figured there are few (10 or so) more flying under the radar, taking over for their husbands and ex-husbands, or working for private institutions.

“This is a heavily male union,” says 32BJ spokesperson Rachel Cohen. “We don’t have control over hiring, but we encourage women to enter this field because of the job security.”

Longtime superintendent Janet Leon says that for decades even handywomen have been shy to the job and that building owners and co-op and condo boards have been reluctant to hire women as supers. “I’m not talking about the dark ages,” says Leon, who earned a degree in building engineering from CUNY to enhance her job skills. “Very recently, I was surprised by the candor of some employers in New York telling me outright that I wasn’t getting the job because I’m a woman.”

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