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Women in Construction

WE CAN DO IT!!

Article by Jessica Avignone

Photography by shutterstock.com

Remember when you were told that little girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice? Maybe not...perhaps I'm showing my age. The truth is, women are made of a whole lot more, and successfully breaking into the established fraternity of construction and development. The number of women in construction is growing rapidly, and has been for some time. Although currently women make up a modest 14% of all construction positions, the number of women-owned construction companies has increased 64% from 2014 to 2019 according to Lior Zitsman in an article she wrote for Undercover Recruiter: "As construction was expected to grow by 3 percent in 2019 and create almost 2 million new jobs by 2021, companies are looking to recruit more women to bring their skill sets into the field."

In decades past, it was common to see women in construction placed in administrative roles, or maybe design or sales. It was much less common to see female architects, engineers and general contractors. Construction and development was widely accepted as a male dominated industry, but why? Was it because men were inherently better at project management, details, communication, and organization (all highly important traits of a successful construction and development professional)? Many say not necessarily...

"Women tend to be more realistic about what it takes to complete a project from start to finish. We don’t sugar coat or guarantee unrealistic expectations just to sign a deal." Says Danielle Bryant, owner of Thrive Construction Management in Phoenix. "Through the years I have learned that communication is the key to success. Clients not only want to be heard, but they want to be informed every step of the way. I believe women have a better handle on forecasting and truly communicating possibilities. I also believe women tend to be more authentic in their workplace."

What about when it comes to making the financial decisions in the household? Although for many years, it was commonly assumed the "man of the house" made the call when spending and allocating money in the family budget, but this is no longer the case. Amy Nelson, founder and CEO of The Riveter says, "Women, on the daily, spend more time than men making economic decisions for their families — from consumer goods to services. Women hold crucial purchasing power. In fact, women drive 70-80 percent of all consumer purchasing, through a combination of their buying power and influence."

Wouldn't it make sense that the family member holding the purse strings would want to work with professionals that better understood their lives, their pressures, and their expectations? Well, yes. It's not uncommon to hear that women want to work with other women...we just get things done. I believe these statistics will only grow the opportunities for women to thrive and succeed in this industry.

Data shows that more women are making and influencing the decisions when selecting a professional to manage a commercial build-out, or residential remodel. It would make sense that they would want to work with someone they innately feel comfortable with. This doesn't always lead to hiring a woman-owned construction company, but it certainly can help. "Being a woman in construction does have its benefits... I wouldn’t say that it definitely secures us work over male counter-parts..." says Bryant when asked if being a women-owned company gives her an edge when prospecting clients. What does set her apart? "Listening, making work fun, and appreciating others. Learning how to approach subcontractors with confidence and being able to communicate your expectations with an aligned positive approach will keep people committed to your firm ... We like to make things fun, so people enjoy coming to work on one of our job sites. We also value our subcontractors as important partners. Without our subs, we wouldn’t be as successful. Appreciation goes a long way!"

At the end of the day, it's important to select a construction partner that you feel has your interest in mind, understands your goals, and is willing to listen...regardless of gender. Clearly setting realistic expectations, and communicating challenges will increase the success of the project, and the comfort level of the client.

"I am determined to succeed, thus resulting in doing things to surpass a client’s expectation..." adds Bryant. "We all have the ability to create what we want out of life. Knowing this and not taking it for granted will always set us apart and lead to exceeding expectations."

Well put, girl.

Women have been revered for years for their ability to multi-task, spin multiple plates and wear multiple hats...no offense boys. The fact is that more women are becoming comfortable in, and successful at careers in construction. We have proven we have the necessary skills to prosper in this industry, and I believe this will pave the way to more positions for women, both in leadership and in the field.

Sugar and spice, and everything nice? Sometimes...but to be safe, let's throw in some power tools and diesel trucks. In the words of Rosie the Riveter, "We can do it!" (and we will).

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