It's Women in Construction Week!
Initiated by The National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC), Women in Construction (WIC) Week takes place this year on March 1-7. Women in Construction Week, or WIC Week as it is often called, recognizes the success of women in the construction industry. As opportunities for women in construction continue to expand, the week brings awareness to the growing roles of women in the industry and sparks conversation around diversity in the trades.
For our own company, we have seen the impact that female employees have had on our business firsthand. When we first opened shop four decades ago, there were no women working on the operations side of the business--women in the industry predominantly occupied accounting and receptionist positions. Increasingly, this is no longer the case.
Now, we are lucky to have eight women working in the office and the field: as project engineers, project managers, project assistants, accountants, controllers, and office managers.
"It surely has been a dramatic change and it's been a change for the better," says Rob Miller, founder of R|MILLER Inc. "In my experience, women have added a real thoughtful element to an industry that was in desperate need of a more deliberate, measured approach."
Kandice is a senior project engineer with R|MILLER who was first exposed to the industry during childhood. "My dad was in roadway construction and I was always drawn to it," she says. "Father-daughter work days, washing his super dirty truck, riding in his lap on a grader, operating a skid steer as a teen to help him replace our septic tank."
She later took a job as a receptionist at a civil engineering firm and was quickly reminded how much she loved construction. "Skipping ahead, I ended up going to college for civil engineering with a focus in construction management."
Regarding her views on women in the industry, Kandice says: "Women bring a different perspective and attention to detail. I’m tenacious and resourceful but I’m also maternal and helpful by nature, and I find most guys appreciate someone who jumps in and helps make their life easier, whatever contribution that may be."
Holly, a project manager with R|MILLER, moved from the accounting to the operations side of the business several years ago. "I never expected to be in the construction industry and I continue to surprise my high school classmates because of my profession," she says. "Utilizing strengths in communication and relationship-building, I have been able to grow within the company and provide a higher level of customer service that women on average excel at. I love learning and in the construction industry there is always something to be learned each and every day."
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, women account for just 10.3% of workers employed in construction. But as awareness and opportunities for women in the industry grow alongside the demand for a larger workforce, the landscape of the construction industry will continue to change--and hopefully become more diverse.
"It's an office environment that looks more like the world itself than some isolated anomaly," says Rob. "You want to make your company accessible to the best talent, and the fewer barriers you have, the better it is for everyone."