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What I Wish I Knew Before Pursuing a Career in Construction

 

The percentage of women in construction today is almost 11%, with about 3% employed as tradeswomen. And the number is rising as more and more women choose to work in construction. We asked our members and social media followers to tell us what they wish they knew before pursuing a career in construction. Here's what they said:
Opportunities for women in construction

“That the opportunities are endless and the challenges are many! Worth it!”
Doreen Bartoldus, PE, CCM, Water Wastewater Construction Management Leader at Jacobs
 
“I wish I knew how vast and varied the opportunities are!”
Tracy Coles, Director of Business Development/ Connector/ Real Estate Broker Associate
 
The current labor shortage in construction could be alleviated by making construction work more attractive to women, and thus providing even more opportunities for women to enter the industry, according to this article in Engineering News-Record.
 
The most difficult challenge for women in construction is . . . men

“The hardest part isn't the degree. It's navigating the industry as a woman.”
Elizabeth Rodriguez, Civil EIT

“There will be men who just can't handle the fact that women can do their jobs just as well.”
Rhonda Travis
 
“After 30 years in the trades it's appalling to me that a man can have a conversation with a man regarding a project and not question a thing, but if a woman and a man have the same conversation about the project she has to provide back up as to why she made those statements. It's ridiculous. Yes, I have witnessed many changes for the better but I have also dealt with first hand bias.”
Heather McNally, Project Manager/ General Superintendent Hybrid
 
According to this report in Business Insider, one of the main reasons women in construction leave or have left the industry is a lack of respect or harassment. 
 
“You really can do it”
 
  1. That not everyone's opinion matters, pick the people whose opinion you care about, otherwise you're fighting a losing battle trying to please everyone.
  2. You may feel you have to try harder than the boys to gain the same amount of respect, this isn't personal, it's a societal issue that we might not even change in a generation.
  3. Getting up really early for a concrete pour might become exciting to you
  4. Wear lots of long layers beneath your clothes.
  5. Persist until you're given female-fitting PPE, it is out there.
  6. Stand up for yourself.
Once you're in it's hard to leave ??”
lynsmcn_civilengineer on Instagram
 
“Stay focused on your own personal career and growth… you really can do it- that “it” being whatever it is you'd like to do. If you listen and learn - you'll find that men are not your competition but will absolutely be your mentors and supporters of your success.”
Christine Scott, Residential & Commercial Services | President/CEO at Paul Scott Plumbing | Licensed Plumbing Contractor & Licensed Journeyman Plumber | Backflow Certified | Macomb & Oakland County
 
Mentors and networking can be instrumental in a successful career in construction for women. In this article in the Long Island Business News, Peggy Keane, vice president of construction and business services for PSEG Long Island, shared, “Everyone needs a personal board of directors: Not just one mentor; a board of directors. That board should provide guidance and feedback, and also initiate connections to help your personal and career goals . . . . Some of the most impactful guidance I have received has come from the unlikeliest places, so I encourage you to consider someone outside your field, another possibly within it, a third who has a strong contact list and is willing to make the connections, a cheerleader, someone who is highly critical, and a person who has had a similar journey to your own.”
 
The National Association of Women in Construction builds female construction leaders.
Whether you are just starting out or you are an established female construction leader, the National Association of Women in Construction provides women in construction with opportunities for networking, professional development, education, leadership training, and public service. NAWIC has 118 chapters throughout the United States – international ties, too. Membership is open to any women in construction or a related field. Members can connect with other women construction workers and find educational materials and training resources to help them build more confidence in their abilities and develop leadership skills. Applying for membership to NAWIC is simple with either the online form or the downloadable application to fill out and mail in. Several membership options are available for flexible pricing and membership terms. To learn more about our work to unite construction women in the industry and inspire future female construction leaders through membership with NAWIC, contact us through our social media pages, our website.
 

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