As part of Women’s History Month, March 5 – 11 was designated as Women in Construction Week, which celebrates and promotes the role of women in the construction industry. This year’s theme is “Many Paths, One Mission,” which celebrates the various career paths women have followed, as well as highlighting their success in the construction industry.
Although traditionally thought of as a male-dominated profession, the construction industry has seen a substantial increase in the number of women joining the construction workforce. It is estimated that over one million women now make up a diverse array of roles within the industry, from project engineers and project managers, to estimators and essential support staff, such as marketing, IT, human resources, and accounting.
To better understand the experiences of female construction professionals, we asked the women of Ross Group a variety of questions related to their experience in this field. Their responses provide insights for women who are considering entering the construction sector or seeking to make a meaningful difference in this vital industry.
What would you say to women interested in joining the construction industry?
“There is nothing that can stop you from pursuing whatever you determine you love to do. Find a great mentor that can help you navigate moving up through the industry. The future only changes the past if you push to make the change. It’s incredibly rewarding to find your place in an industry that has historically been dominated by men and flourish. Break down the stereotypes and stake your claim in the industry.” – Training and Development Specialist, Brittanie White.
“Cultivating positive relationships with the people you work with will help propel you forward. Find the people who are willing to invest in you, advocate for you, and teach you.” - Melody Allwine, Property Manager/Owner’s Rep.
“Identify who you are and what you need. (Are you a single person who wants to travel and see the world, but doesn’t have any ties locally? Possible to come home once in a while? Are you a young married wife, who can do a bit of travel but prefers local? Are you a mother that wants no travel and the flexibility to be a present mom?) Play out the scenario in your head.” – Finance Department, Tracy Hembree
How Can Construction Companies Improve on Recruiting More Women?
"Ross Group does an admirable job by providing content with a focus on the women of this sector. Construction companies should consider utilizing this technique if they aren’t already. Also, getting women involved in career fairs and events will send a strong message to younger females, demonstrating that women have a place within the construction industry. I never envisioned myself working in this industry. Yet here I am at Ross Group, a company that made me realize that there is nolimit to what a woman can achieve in this field.” – Project Controls Analyst, Kyndra Walker
“By recognizing the value of female employees in job postings and giving women an opportunity to share their construction-related stories in various college programs, construction companies can entice more female applicants. Some women might find the construction industry's hard laborunappealing, but they should still give it a go. They might be surprised.” – Dallis Reed,
“By expanding recruiting efforts beyond the initial hiring process to include retention. The industry is more likely to attract younger women if women of all ages are retained as role models to demonstrate the variety of successful careers in construction. Firms that create diverse project teams, both in the field and home office roles, illustrate that there is an opportunity for women to thrive in all aspects of the business. Additionally, promoting women to leadership roles concretely demonstrates that women are accepted and wanted in the construction industry. Women leaders further can serve as role models and mentors, as well as recruit and advance other women in this industry.” – Jennifer Maxwell, Marketing Director
What has helped you succeed the most in this industry and what advice do you have for other women?
"Nothing can be changed unless women stand up for themselves and go after what they want. However, there are opportunities for professional development out there. Women must attend training seminars, mentoring programs, and workshops. The National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) is a good example. These programs teach women to lead careers in construction." – Brandy Wilson, Project Controls Manager
“Men can empower their female colleagues in the construction industry by providing encouragement and inviting them to help develop new ideas. I have learned that it is important to get to know yourself and build your self-confidence. This sector can be harsh and challenging, but I have learned that when you take risks and push yourself beyond your boundaries, you can achieve whatever you put your mind to.” – Project Engineer Dallis Reed
“My mother has always been a 'do it yourself' type of woman, who never would walk away from a task just because someone told her she couldn’t do it. This has translated into me and my career. I was taught from an early age that challenges are not something to walk away from; they are something to grow from. While the challenges for women in this industry are typically greater than for men, it shouldn’t be an excuse; it should be a motivator for success.” – Brooke Fugate, Assistant Project Manager
“My success in safety is due in no small part to the extensive training I've acquired over the years, familiarizing myself with project safety protocols and applying them in the field." – Site Safety Officer, Armida Soto
What is the biggest challenge of being a woman working in construction?
"Women need access to mentors who can provide guidance on overcoming professional obstacles and demonstrate alternate ways of furthering their career in this industry. In my opinion, Ross Group does a great job at providing mentors through its mentor/mentee program. More companies need programs like that to help the younger staff. " – Haley Nolen, Jr. Marketing Coordinator
“Earning respect in this industry, especially on-site, is challenging. Women typically have to prove themselves in situations, where men are more readily accepted.”
– Brooke Fugate, Assistant Project Manager
“Managing relationships with people from different walks of life can be challenging. Each party has its own goals, motivations, and interests. Aligning these objectives is essential to the completion of a project and the success of a team, but finding common ground is not always a simple process!” - Melody Allwine, Property Manager/Owner’s Rep.
In today's competitive work environment, women have become more accepted and valued in the workforce. In the world of construction, they’ve been continually proving to be every bit as competent and capable as men. Women in this industry have exhibited aptitude, skill, and wisdom when leading projects. Whether you currently work in construction or are a woman considering a career in construction, now is an exciting time to
thrive and succeed in the construction industry!