When asked to think of a male-dominated industry, construction often comes to mind. Because of all the people who work in the field, only 9 percent are female!
There are several reasons why — including unequal pay and lack of female leadership. However, according to a study by Balfour Beatty, that’s all about to change. The study states that by 2020, the total number of women in construction will almost triple to about 25 percent of the total workforce.
Are you ready to make a change?
To understand how women can transition to a career in construction and overcome working in a male-dominated industry, we spoke to Stacy Saenz, a Project Engineer at Clark Construction. She had the following tips for women who are passionate about construction and want to succeed in their roles.
1. Be prepared for anything, always
In construction, no two days are ever the same. For Stacy, there is no such thing as a typical day on the job. She said: “If there isn’t a meeting, a site walk, or an inspection (or all of the above) there’s another puzzle to solve to keep the job moving along.”
2. View challenges as opportunities
Stacy said one of the biggest challenges she faces is the fact that there are not enough women, especially Latino women, in construction management positions. With men holding 92 percent of all leadership roles, it can be difficult to break down barriers and find someone to look up to. As the next female hire at a construction company, however, you have the opportunity to pave the way for future women in construction. Volunteer to lead workshops, ask for additional training, and apply for internal promotions to cement yourself as a force to be reckoned with.
3. Never be afraid to ask questions
The best piece of advice Stacy ever received was to ask questions ALL of the time. She said: “There is no such thing as a dumb question. The best way to learn is to ask the right questions at the right time in order to execute your goals.”
4. Find a mentor (or be one)
Throughout her time in construction, Stacy has had multiple mentors, both personal and professional. She said: “I wouldn’t be where I am today without the guidance of my mentors. Since graduating, I have participated in professional development workshops where I have had the opportunity to mentor students in the Bay Area pursuing degrees in Engineering. Through these events, I am able to share more about my experiences, advice on pursuing a career in construction, and interviewing tips for women.”
For more tips on how to recruit and retain women in constuction, read this blog post. It’s time to level the playing field!