Archive September 2022

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Many Paths, One Mission: Women Leading in Construction

NAWIC president Lauline Mitchell shares her vision, Many Paths, One Mission, for the organization and for women leading in construction.

Why Should I Join a Women’s Construction Association?

Although women make up less than 15% of the construction industry workforce, the current labor shortage and one of the smallest gender pay gaps make a career in construction a promising opportunity for women.
The National Association of Women in Construction is the leading women’s construction association, with 118 chapters across the US, organized into 8 regions. The chapters are our boots on the ground, providing local events, meetings and resources for members. Each chapter is run by its own elected leadership and offers opportunities of particular interest to women builders in the area. Here are some of the perks of membership from our local chapters.
Networking and mentorship from local women leaders in construction
In life, the best support comes from those who know you well. The same holds true for women in construction. NAWIC chapters offer networking and mentorship opportunities from women who understand the local culture and environment and have experiences to share. There is power in connection.

Mercedes Gamor, currently the NAWIC Puget Sound Chapter 60 President and NAWIC Pacific Northwest Region DE&I Chair and Spring Forum 2024, said, “One thing that has surprised me in a positive way is how much my leadership team at Prime Electric is behind me; supporting me and encouraging me to be involved with NAWIC. None of the leadership had concerns over the time commitment or if it would affect my work performance. They all encouraged me to do so and had no hesitations. They know how important NAWIC is to the industry and has been excited for my journey in leadership. We have several employees who are a part of NAWIC and even have another chapter board member at our company!”
Professional development opportunities
NAWIC leads builders and builds leaders. Nationally, NAWIC offers an annual conference, regional conferences twice a year, and online learning opportunities, as well as certification courses offered through the NAWIC Education Foundation. On a chapter level, educational opportunities range from guest speakers at chapter meetings to lunch and learns to OSHA workshops and professional development classes. Here are a few upcoming chapter events: Events to strengthen and unite a community of builders
Job site tours are popular events for many chapters. Others participate in local industry events. Chapters also join the NAWIC National celebration of WIC (Women in Construction) Week (*link*) by sponsoring programs promoting awareness of and opportunities for women in construction. This year marks the 25th anniversary of WIC Week, which was founded by NAWIC in 1998 and is now recognized nationally by the construction industry.
It’s not all about work, either. Book clubs, craft and self-help classes, golf tournaments, holiday parties, awards dinners, and family events are some of the social activities offered by local NAWIC chapters. Volunteer opportunities range from helping with the local food bank to partnering with an animal shelter for a fundraising event to hosting a construction camp for girls.
What does your local chapter have to offer?
Membership in our leading women’s construction association is open to any woman in the industry. Your closest chapter may not be the one you feel most at home with, so it's okay to attend a few different meetings and see which in your area you enjoy the most. 
Not close to a NAWIC chapter?
Of course, if there isn’t a chapter close to you, you can still receive the benefits of membership through NAWIC National. If you are a Member At-Large, you can attend chapter events; you just can't vote in a chapter. It's a great option for someone who may not live particularly close to a chapter or who travels a lot. You can choose to attend any chapter events that are convenient. Learn more about all of our membership opportunities (Active, Corporate, Associate, Student, Retired, At-Large, and International.)
The National Association of Women in Construction builds women leaders in construction. To learn more about how our women’s construction association supports women in the industry and inspire future women leaders in construction, contact us through social media or our website.

Mercedes Gamor

Mercedes Gamor   Mercedes Gamor went to New Mexico with the dream of becoming a lawyer, not a residential general contractor like her father. Working her way through college, she took a job at the Home Builders Association. Now, after 10 years as a woman in construction, she is the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Specialist for Prime Electric, a full-service electrical contractor on the West Coast. She also serves as the 2022-2023 President of the NAWIC Puget Sound Chapter 60 and as the Pacific Northwest Region DE&I Chair and Spring Forum 2024 Chair.

How she came to embrace the construction industry
While a Member Specialist at the Home Builders Association, Gamor realized there was a labor gap. She sought to connect young people with industry leaders for job opportunities, sponsorships, and networking by chartering the Lobo Builders, an NAHB-affiliated student chapter at the University of New Mexico. In the first year, the chapter was recognized nationally as Student Chapter of the Month and as Rookie Chapter of the Year at the International Builders Show. Despite this early success, Gamor still had no intention of staying in construction.
It took 3 years at HBA, followed by a position in sales and marketing and then as a warranty coordinator for a family-owned residential general contractor, to change her mind. She discovered she loved working with homeowners, vendors, suppliers, subcontractors, and field superintendents in her new role. Since then, she has held several positions in the construction industry:  in accounting, as Assistant Project Manager, and in her current role as DEI Specialist for Prime Electric.

“With my new role in DEI, I’m not sure if my goals will change as I grow in this position. But ever since I made the switch from a path in law to construction, I have wanted to own a residential general contracting business. That’s where I started. It’s my childhood, and I love being a part of making something people will cherish and create memories in,” she said.
On the state of the construction industry
“As a minority and woman in construction, I am in a unique position to understand and relate to the struggles diverse partners and team members can experience. Companies are focusing on DEI and are working to institute change and that’s what I am most excited for in the industry right now.”
She added, “It’s also exciting and reassuring that the stigma around mental health is lessening. COVID let people realize that they aren’t alone in their feelings and that everyone struggles. I’ve have seen more and more people willing to talk about their stressors, their emotions, their well-being, and ask for help and resources. “
How NAWIC has been a part of her career
“NAWIC has empowered me to stand up for what I believe in and has helped me grow personally as well as professionally. I have been given opportunities to participate in women in construction and DEI work that is vital to the growth of this industry and my company. I’ve been able to make connections across the nation, grow my network, and start making steps toward my future goals. My new role in DEI at PRIME can be directly related to my work with the NAWIC DE&I committee.” Her ultimate career goal is to create a national network of construction-related businesses to support people coming out of incarceration, such as those exonerated by the Innocence Project.
“I love many things about my career, but what I think I love most is being a part of something larger than myself. That could be being a part of NAWIC or DEI at Prime or being a part of an in-progress or completed project,” Gamor said.
Her advice for future women in construction
“The construction industry is an amazing place to learn and grow and the horizons are endless. There are so many opportunities here, and they just keep getting better and better as we continue to advocate for ourselves, other women, and become a more inclusive environment. Don’t forget to join NAWIC for the connections, mentorship, development, and sisterhood!”