For many construction women, the glass ceiling seems like a barrier unable to be shattered. But there are plenty of female leaders in construction that are working to change that perception. With the number of construction women growing within the workforce, recently reaching nearly ten percent of the industry overall, the future is getting brighter for those who have aspirations of obtaining leadership roles. Here are five female CEO’s within the construction industry who are showing the world that construction isn’t just for the guys – and who are working to inspire the next generation of construction women.
Kathryn Cahill Thompson – Cahill Contractors
If you’re involved in construction anywhere near San Francisco, odds are you’re familiar with Cahill Contractors, which is currently recognized as the highest-earning woman-owned construction company in the Bay Area. The female-run company generates more than $300 million in revenue, annually. Kathryn Cahill Thompson became CEO of the company in 2016 after joining the venture as a project engineer nearly a decade earlier. Kathryn was no stranger to the construction industry prior to working with Cahill Contractors, however, as members of her family had worked in construction for three generations before her. In addition to being CEO of Cahill Contractors, Kathryn serves on the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce.
Robin Thorne – CTI Environmental
CEO of a successful construction firm in Long Beach, California is just one of the roles Robin Thorne can list on her resume. Outside of running CTI Environmental, an engineering and specialized construction firm that focuses on compliance and management, Robin has also served as Commissioner with the City of Long Beach’s Sustainable City Commission, is a member of the Board of the Community Development Branch of Long Beach YMCA and is a member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers – just to name a few of her many accomplishments. As part of her role as CEO, Robin takes a great interest in recruitment for CTI and works to instill the importance of customer service within the firm.
Sheryl Palmer – Taylor Morrison
Taylor Morrison, a homebuilder and developer with a national reach, has worked hard to not only be recognized for doing great work, but also for encouraging gender equality in the workplace. With a 53 to 47 percent split of male-to-female representation in employment, it should come as no surprise that female CEO and Chairman, Sheryl Palmer, also serves as Chairman of a non-profit encouraging interest for employment in the construction industry. Sheryl also uses her role with this non-profit as a way to reach out to the next generation of construction women. Thanks to Sheryl’s interests in providing a diverse workplace within the construction industry, Taylor Morrison has been recognized by Bloomberg’s Gender-Equality Index for advancements in gender equality three years in a row. She has also helped the company to see a 60 percent increase within the last two years of women in superintendent roles, with a total of 56 women in construction-specific jobs company-wide.
Guiomar Obregon – Precision 2000 Inc.
When Guiomar Obregon founded Precision 2000 Inc. with her husband in 1998, she knew building a successful business would be a challenge. Not only did Guiomar want to provide more opportunities for the growing construction market in Atlanta, Georgia, she and her husband both felt the area needed more minority-owned company representation. In a recent interview featured in Construction Business Owner, Guiomar stated that she doesn’t want to take any of her privilege as an industry leader for granted, hoping that she can help to make representation of construction women a priority in all levels of the industry. As for what she considers her greatest achievement as a female CEO in construction, Guiomar notes being able to lead her company through challenging times.
Patricia Zugibe – Holt Construction
Holt Construction Corp is a 102-year-old general contracting and construction firm headquartered in Pearl River, New York – and Patricia Zugibe is the company’s first female CEO. While Patricia is extremely grateful for the opportunity to become a role model for construction women within the industry, she recognizes that the path to the top can sometimes be “alienating and lonely,” and wants to use her position of power to make that journey less of a hardship for other construction women. Patricia is no stranger to paving the way as a female leader, as she formerly served as counsel for Rockland County and was one of its few female lawyers. It was during this time that Patricia began partnering with a residential rental property company and founded both North Rockland Developers Inc. and Zugibe Construction, Inc., reigniting her love of the construction industry. It wasn’t until eight years into her marriage to Jack Holt, the former CEO of Holt Construction, that Patricia began working with the company as counsel. Over time, Patricia’s expertise in management, construction industry knowledge, and leadership skills made her the obvious choice to take the company forward as the first female CEO.
The National Association of Women in Construction has over 115 chapters across the United States. With membership open to all construction women, NAWIC is able to connect members with resources to help them gain confidence in their abilities and develop more leadership skills. Any construction women interested in joining NAWIC can apply for membership by using either the online form or downloadable application to fill out and mail in - both of which are available on the NAWIC website. There are also several membership options available for flexible pricing and membership terms. To learn more about the unity of construction women through membership with NAWIC, contact us through our social media pages, our website, or use our “find a NAWIC chapter near you” tool.
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