Women in Construction: Entering the Industry

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With the increasing number of women joining the construction industry each year, we interviewed two of our more recent female hires about their journeys leading to a career in a construction, what keeps them here now, and who ultimately inspires them.

According to North Central College, “It’s been estimated that anywhere from 20 to 50 percent of students start college as ‘undecided’ in terms of their major. What’s more, upward of 75 percent of college students change their major before they graduate.” So, this information made us think… what brought two of our newest Project Coordinators into the world of construction?

Alexandra Stone and Elaine Anaya were hired around the same time about two years ago. Alexandra, who had graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies and Construction Management, entered the industry for a very specific reason. She reflects, “I have always enjoyed experiencing the built world around us. The ways in which construction can show so many different lifestyles, cultures, needs, and environments have always fascinated me.”

Elaine, who simultaneously completed her degree and worked full-time with Staples, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Engineering Management. As she put it, “[Construction] is in line with my chosen major. You have the opportunity to produce work that keeps on giving for years.”

Here are their takes on some other questions about a career as a woman in construction:

What do you like most about your work in construction? What makes you proud of the work you do?

Alexandra: I greatly enjoy and appreciate all of the moving pieces that have to come together in order to finish a project. Though it can be difficult, the true teamwork and commitment to your fellow builders to ensure all of the steps are completed is what generates new, exciting, renovated spaces that can be beneficial to communities and society as a whole. To be a part of this process can be beautiful and feel simultaneously overwhelming and incredible.

Elaine: No fear of job stagnation! Every day you are faced with a new challenge. Every day you are getting closer to your project completion. You are constantly stimulated as you may encounter problems to solve, and an opportunity to learn.

What is it like being a woman in a traditionally male-dominated industry?

Alexandra: Being a woman in a traditionally male dominated industry can absolutely be intimidating at times. However, in my experience, I have worked with builders who appreciate multiple minds from any background or gender coming together and sharing their input. At the end of the day, project completion is what helps bring everyone together with a common goal, and I believe at this point, the best, most efficient builders know they are better off having everyone in the room.

Elaine: What I’ve learned is you would want to be considered an equal player in the game, not a woman in the game. When you show up to the game, you are there to win regardless of your gender— do not let yourself be labeled differently.

In construction, who inspires you?

Alexandra: I am lucky enough to say that my coworkers inspire me! I work with a group of women here at Staples Construction that prove daily that not only can women do this work, but that we can positively change the construction business in ways that improve efficiency, innovate consistently, and continue to grow toward a more inclusive, and therefore more intelligent, industry.

Elaine: Two women inspire me. Staples’ Senior Project Manager Lori Sayles taught me “The surest way to simplify your life is to focus on what matters most.” I also look to the CFO of a prominent logistics company who told me “It’s all about perspective; always be logical.”

The key takeaway from these ladies? Everyone should have a seat at the table. As the construction industry continues to grow and expand, so do the opportunities for people of all skill sets and interests. The new generations of the workforce bring fresh ideas and perspectives that will continue to increase the quality of thought being brought to the table, and that will always be a valuable thing to gain. Happy Women's History Month!

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