This week we celebrate Women in Construction Week (WIC) and the many women who work in and make important contributions to our industry every day! We are pleased to share the stories from many of the women who work and live in NH and VT. The project was created in partnership with I Build NH and NAWIC Granite State Chapter.
It's a physical and tangible representation of a day/week/year(s) hard work. I don't know a single person in the industry, whether office or field, who hasn't said "I helped build that" whenever they drove by a project they had a hand in building.
What is your education/training background?
I have had a combination of college, field and office work for the past 15 years. Try on a multitude of hats, it will help you in the long run be a well rounded employee.
How did you find yourself working in the construction industry?
Safety was a little different a few years ago – my brother and I were on site Saturdays filing Co's and Po's at 7, typed my first RFI at 11, word smithed my first appeal to the Conservation Committee at 15. Once I was old enough to choose a path, going to school for Construction Management seemed familiar and something I knew the culture of, which helped my decision.
What do you enjoy most about your career?
The people I meet and the stories they tell. It's very rare that experience is valued more than a degree, but in this industry, experience and the stories of other sites are the law of the land. Construction is a misfit group of golden heart, well-meaning, hard-working, and incredibly knowledgeable people.
What’s the most interesting project you’ve worked on?
Early in my career, it was watching the Flagship Apple store go up in New York City on 14th street. Watching the precision it took on the glass staircase install was the first time I realized how far the boundaries that engineers and designers pushed.
Later on as a Residential project manager, it would be a Boston brownstone renovation where the Architect took the place down to the studs and had full creative control with a blank checkbook. There were some bold style choices made in that project.
Currently in my career, I am in the estimating department. The numbers that come in on bid day look like monopoly money to me, I've just never witnessed some of these scopes of work before. Once I started attending our job site visits and was able to view some of our mammoth industrial projects in progress, it made a lot more sense. The intricate dance and coordination it takes to keep these industrial processes running, while simultaneously building massive structures and reformatting sites to better enhance the productivity of the plant, is just incredible. I'm very thankful to be working at Methuen and to see a whole new side of the industry, on a scale I've never been a part of in the past.
What advice do you have for women who want to work in the construction industry?
1) Get dirty. Don't be afraid to learn, look and really get in there.
2) Ask the questions to find out WHY things work, not just how. This thought process will help you creatively problem solve moving forward, no matter what your career is.
3) Don’t waste time on an apology, just take responsibility and work on how to fix it. Women tend to overuse “I’m sorry” to fill a pause in conversation, keep the peace or admit more fault than they are responsible for. Confrontation happens, mistakes happen, but none of that is fixed by an “I’m sorry.” Save your breath, as you’ll need it when you’re working hard to fix it.
4) At the start of your career, not everyone will want you there, want to respect you or want to listen to you. Don't let that discourage you, because you’ll live there in that weird bubble for a while until your experience catches up with your knowledge.
5) You, just by being a woman, will bring a different dynamic to your interactions with subcontractors, vendors and teammates. That’s ok, different doesn’t mean less than or bad. Different just means not the same.
Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) is a national construction industry trade association representing nearly 21,000 chapter members. Founded on the merit shop philosophy, ABC and its 70 chapters help members develop people, win work and deliver that work safely, ethically, profitably and for the betterment of the communities in which ABC and its members work. ABC's membership represents all specialties within the U.S. construction industry and is comprised primarily of firms that perform work in the industrial and commercial sectors.
I Build New Hampshire
I Build NH represents the construction sector of the state through the Sector Partnerships Initiative (SPI). I Build NH represents companies involved in heavy construction like municipal water treatment systems and road building, electric and telecommunication infrastructure, civil engineering, heating/ventilation/air conditioning businesses and more.
National Association of Women in Construction
The National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) has over 115 chapters throughout the United States, including the NAWIC Granite State Chapter. NAWIC provides its members with opportunities for professional development, education, networking, leadership training, public service and more. NAWIC advocates for the value and impact of women builders, professionals and tradeswomen in all aspects of the construction industry.