I’m going to turn over most of my space this month to a letter from a reader, but I wanted to include a brief note that very rarely, I can be wrong.

In my March column, I wrote that I doubted there was any way the health care overhaul President Barack Obama had been pushing for a year would become law. The upset victory of a Republican in the Massachusetts U.S. Senate special election had changed the dynamics in that typically slow-moving chamber, where parliamentary rules give those opposing a bill many ways to stop or slow it down.

In addition, a February online poll atwww.snipsmag.comshowed a large majority of Web site visitors thought the bill was dead. But as most know by now, the bill passed both chambers in March. I guess it shows that sometimes even Snips readers - and the editor - can be wrong.

Found success as female estimator

I read with interest your editorial in the February issue regarding women in the industry (“Another take on women in the sheet metal industry,” Editor’s Page).

I am 48 years old, and have been doing this longer than I care to admit. I entered the business in 1980 after high school. I caught the attention of the president of a major sheet metal firm in the Philadelphia area. He hired me because it was his opinion that women would make great estimators, and I enjoyed a fabulous 10 years there.

Within two years, I took over the estimating department. I quickly realized I had to work harder than my male counterparts, which was not fair, but as I look back now, I realize this is why I have succeeded. It made me a better estimator.

I ended up marrying someone from the firm I met on the company softball team.

I later accepted a position as a senior estimator with Herman Goldner Co., a major mechanical contractor in Philadelphia. Spent a few years there while I was also doing the “mom” thing, and found that really hard.

Being a mom to two young children and the demands of being a senior estimator took its toll. I eventually went back to the mom thing, but worked two days a week for a friend who is an HVAC supplier/manufacturer’s rep. While there, a group of former co-workers who had formed a new firm offered me the estimating position. Back in sheet metal; back to doing what I know and love.

It did not take long to realize this was my opportunity to “come home.”  They knew I had reservations due to my family commitments, but worked around my schedule, and nine years later, are very flexible with me.

It’s been a long road. I think the reason I am so good at what I do is due in part to my having to be better than the next guy, literally. I have the pleasure of being known as one of the top sheet metal estimators in the Philadelphia area. I have worked for some wonderful firms, and have worked with some terrific people. I have also worked with individuals who were constantly trying to knock me down. Over the years, those memories have dulled, thankfully.

Bottom line, I really do not think we women can have it all. If you give your all to your career, then your family suffers. If you give your all to your family, then your career suffers. I have definitely managed to have the best of both worlds, but it has cost me advancement in my career. Not that I have a problem with that. And if I had to do it over again, I really don’t think I would change a thing.

Gina Onorato

Air Distribution Systems Inc.

Cherry Hill, N.J.