While more and more women break down barriers in the construction industry, we still have a long way to go! Men continue to dominate the industry as skilled craft professionals, but women are finding their way and building rewarding careers for themselves. The National Association of Women in Construction recognized March 1-7, 2015 as Women in Construction Week. This presented an opportunity to focus on the role of women in construction and to heighten the awareness of career opportunities in the industry for women. I always find it very interesting to learn about the experiences of other women in the industry and seek their advice and words of wisdom.
Recently, I explored the experiences and words of wisdom from women in the construction industry at Robins & Morton, where I work. Their experience in the industry ranged from four months to 41 years of working in construction. The guidance offered by these women was very supportive and encouraging. For example, most of the women emphasized the importance of self-respect and to never take no for an answer. I always strive to inspire women in the industry to be strong and remain true to their values. Women who work hard and to the best of their abilities will be respected by their peers.
My favorite piece of advice the women gave focused on training: Learn all you can and learn something new every day. Although the women indicated that construction wages were attractive and travel was a benefit, many of them commented about the importance of training. The women I spoke to wanted to take on a new challenge, and take control of their destiny. They made it very clear to let nothing hold you back, because in construction, there is no limit to how far you can go!
One example of a woman who knows no limits is Holley Thomas, a certified welding inspector from KBR and my mentee of more than five years. Last week, Holley was recognized as the 2015 Craft Professional of the Year by the Associated Builders and Contractors. Holley exemplifies the value of self-respect because she is comfortable with herself and who she is as a multi-skilled craft professional. Her drive and tenacity are fundamental to her success because she never takes no for an answer. We share many common threads, but the one thread that united us is TRAINING. Holley strives each day to learn all she can because she knows that the construction industry needs women and women need opportunity!
Here is some of my own advice to women in the construction industry:
- Never give up. Passion fuels the soul.
- Always seek out opportunities for learning, and enter every situation with a learning attitude.
- Learn from the mistakes of others, and take note of the experiences of other trailblazers.
- Create opportunities for other women. Give back by helping others, that’s how you get your blessings.
- Learn to recognize opportunity. Attend workshops and conferences, and pay attention to your surroundings.
Mittie’s journey in the construction industry will be featured in the book “Unexpected Pathways: The Journeys of Women in the Workforce,” which is scheduled to release this month on Amazon.com. To learn more about the book and Mittie’s path to construction, visit futuresinspired.com.