Join us March 1 – 7 2020 as we celebrate National Women in Construction Week! We’re proud to join the National Association of Women in Construction as we raise awareness on the important roles women play in the construction industry. Join us in the coming days as we share insights from our impressive Choate women.
With a passion for people and the impact her role as Safety Manager plays in protecting the lives of our fellow workers, Mackenzie fully embodies the spirit of OneLife and is a dynamic voice for women in construction.
This industry inspires me by the constant challenges that are thrown my way. In my role as a safety manager, I can create a positive change on jobsites by problem solving and working with my team. There is always an answer, but the challenge is discovering the best one and implementing it on our projects. To me, being able to say that our plan worked and has made our jobs safer is the most rewarding and inspiring part of this industry.
I grew up watching my dad work in his profession as an engineer and enjoyed helping him in his shops. The first bird house he helped me make was when I knew I needed to be in a profession where I was working with my hands and problem solving. I now have a bachelor’s degree in architecture with a minor in occupational health and safety, which has led me to my current career as a construction safety manager.
My single piece of advice to a female embarking on a career in this male-dominated industry would be to ensure you have a voice. It can be intimidating when you are the only female in the room, but you cannot be afraid to speak up and offer your ideas. We as women need to be confident and advocate our ability to bring a new perspective to the table and be proud that we have been given the opportunity to do so.
The greatest challenge I see for women in our industry is lack of mentorship. Due to the shortage of women, there is an overall lack of strong female role models, which discourages women from advancing in the field or even choosing construction as a career. Outreach programs to promote women in construction and recruit women to take this career path would be the first step we should take as an industry. Once hired, we need to diligently mentor and empower these individuals to find their voice and confidently advocate for themselves.
As the Office Manager in Choate’s Nashville office, Debbie’s unique background enables her to go far beyond traditional office management. From project administration to HR, logistics to marketing, her experience is trumped only by her willingness to do whatever it takes.
It inspires me to see the things we have built. I am proud to show people here in Nashville what we have built in the past and see the look on their face. I love seeing the finished product and knowing that even if it was small, I was a part of it.
I took a break from my IT career to be a stay-at-home stepmom and ended up co-owning and operating a commercial construction company in Atlanta for 7+ years. The company installed glass and metal products, so I learned a lot about working as a subcontractor. We worked on large projects like the Braves Stadium and Hartsfield Jackson Airport. This became valuable experience for me later on in my career.
Go for it! We need talented women like you!
While this is changing, it’s still a male dominated industry. We shouldn’t let that stop us from excelling in construction and applying for the jobs that we are passionate about.
Whether project management, muay thai, or charity fundraising, Keyona brings power and passion to all that she does. Keyona, share with us…
The satisfaction of seeing an idea on paper come to life in the form of a physical structure and knowing that your hard work, ingenuity, passion, and determination has a direct impact on that structure’s existence.
I explored a few different paths in my civil engineering program. Construction always seemed like the better fit for me given my love for the built environment. I also had some influence from my dad. He’s a fence contractor and has his own company.
Learn how to figure it out while you’re in it. You may not always get the opportunity to extensively prepare for the task at hand. Trust in your ability to figure things out.
Interest in upper management/leadership roles. We can ensure there is representation in those roles and leaders can take a vested interest in the development of women into those roles.
Having worked on some of Choate’s most notable interior renovation projects such as the Interface HQ, Comcast Regional Headquarters, and many more, Amanda has helped pave the way for womens’ roles in our industry. Amanda, tell us…
I am inspired by the opportunity to build something new with every project. Additionally, I love having the opportunity to work with the next generation to not only to share my experience but gain new skills and viewpoints.
Construction was not the original plan. I graduated college in the early 90’s during the recession and an APM job was offered to me. From there I learned the industry from the ground up.
Embrace your diversity. Don’t be afraid to stand out. Be genuine. Learn from the those around you.
Women are still in the minority in this industry. We need to promote the industry to women by increasing our visibility by…
Whether it’s preconstruction, project management, or VDC, Project Engineer Erin Smith does it all! Erin, thanks for sharing your thoughts on how you see women in the AEC industry.
I am inspired to be a contributing member of a team where all the spokes of the wheel are important – business development, preconstruction, administration, operations and of course the boots on site; projects couldn’t run smoothly without all of them! Although the glass ceiling for women in construction was broken long before I chose this career path, the women in this industry truly inspire me. I don’t look at women in construction and think about the disadvantages we may experience during our careers; instead I see the ability to bring value, detail and perspective to our wonderfully intricate projects.
What has always drawn me to construction industry as a whole is the challenge first and foremost, and also the opportunity to build spaces where people thrive. I started off in residential building because I was inspired to be a part of building people’s “forever homes” where they would raise their families and grow old in. Switching to commercial construction and working for Choate has opened up a wider variety of opportunities to be a part of team that creates places for people to work, travel, dine, learn, play, retire, sell, develop, play sports, research, exercise, retire and live in. The possibilities are limitless.
Settle for more, set the bar high and don’t compromise. Another good one: “confidence is a force multiplier”. I heard this from General Henry Taylor in a leadership class through the Chamber of Commerce. In other words, find your strength and seek opportunities to put it on display. This is relevant in all industries and all walks of life.
As women we are fortunate to be working in an era where the “old fashioned” approach to women in AEC industries is a thing of the past. Yet, we still face the challenge of disadvantaging ourselves by questioning our place on jobsites and at the decision making table. The best thing we can do is get our boots in the dirt and learn from our trade partners, our clients and our peers here at Choate. Regardless of gender, race or background, the American ideal is that hard work and grit can get you anywhere you want to be.
Sara O’Mara is a groundbreaking leader in the construction market who has led Choate to the top of the class in sustainable construction, consulting our clients and projects on achieving sustainability goals. She is a LEED Fellow and held the Constructor of Buildings seat on USGBC’s National Board of Directors as well as USGBC’s Advisory Council.
Saving our environment so future generations can enjoy it and helping make our buildings not only healthier but also more sustainable is a key goal in my life. One of our biggest challenges today is living in a manner that you can be proud of and more importantly a manner that your grandkids would be proud of.
It wasn’t planned! I decided to travel around the country working Nuclear Plant outages. I was hired to do clerical work at Catawba’s Nuclear Station for their Steam Generator Replacement project in York, SC. Eventually I asked if the manager would give me a three week trial at being a Material Handler. I had a Commercial Driver’s License at the time from a requirement when I was a coach for Special Olympics. He said, “You’re willing to give up a full-time job for a three week trial? and I said “Yes!” After three weeks I was hired! I’ve always enjoyed surprising people by doing things that aren’t typical of females. The looks I’d get when coming out of the semi’s cab was priceless. Since then I made my way to commercial construction, where I was able to incorporate my love of sustainability… And the rest is history!
Find your passion, put in the hard work and always stand up for what you believe in. If it is worth doing, it is worth doing to the best of your ability.
The lack of women in the construction industry should not be viewed as a challenge that needs to be overcome, but should be a stimulus to all women to grow, speak up, and have our contributions count. As each of us puts our best foot forward and is acknowledged for these accomplishments, the opportunities will increase, the mentorship programs will improve, and the leadership opportunities will strengthen for women.
Unique experience such as working on projects at the Sm, Project Engineer Caroline supports her project teams with the daily management, supervision, and coordination. Caroline, tell us…
It is inspiring to see my team’s hard work and planning come together in front of our eyes.
I like a good challenge and I seek consistent change. That, in combination with the opportunities in construction, drew me into the industry.
If you enjoy the work, you belong here too.
Like many predominately-male industries, it is important for kids to learn that construction is an option for women, too.