The Real Deal New York

NYC boys’ clubs: Few building supers in the city are women

Of the 3,000 unionized superintendents, only a few dozen are female

October 19, 2015 03:29PM

547 Riverside Drive (inset: Building superintendent Loretta Zuk)

547 Riverside Drive (inset: Building superintendent Loretta Zuk)

When something breaks or some other crisis arises in a New York City building, it’s very unlikely that a woman will come to the rescue.

That’s because of the more than 3,000 unionized superintendents in the city, perhaps only a few dozen are women, according to Kyle Bragg of 32BJ SEIU, which represents more than 50,000 building service workers in New York. The underrepresentation of women is the result of gender bias, a lack of female role models and a perception that residents would somehow feel uncomfortable with a female superintendent, according to industry experts.

“It’s an old boys’ club,” the managing director of a real estate firm told the New York Times, speaking on condition of anonymity. “The supers have organizations and they all know each other, so there are all these connections, and there’s a lot of ‘Can you do something for my nephew?’ Or they’ll move to another building and pass their old job to their brother-in-law.

Janet Leon, operations manager at Addison Hall on West 57th Street, said that she’s encountered sexism throughout her career. Managing agents have called her an ideal candidate, but said that they weren’t comfortable with a woman at the building’s helm.

“I love this profession and wanted to keep working in it,” she told the Times. “But I believe that a man with the experience and education that I have would be able to get more benefits and a lot more money, and would have more opportunities, more choices of buildings to work in, than I’ve had.” [NYT] Kathryn Brenzel