This month, Kimberly Kayler, president of Constructive Communication Inc., Dublin, Ohio, an all-female marketing communications firm serving the construction industry, contributed to “Women in Concrete.” The engineer-turned-journalist interviewed women who are active in the tilt-up industry to learn how far women have advanced in this important, growing segment.
Dana Scott, marketing director for Scott System Inc. in Denver, a manufacturer of brick inlays and form liners, has encountered more women in what were traditionally male careers. “I work with more female engineers, project managers, construction managers, and product reps than ever before. If you look at construction as a whole. There are definitely more women choosing this career path.”
Another example is Linda Lindquist, chief estimator for Seretta Construction Inc., of Apopka, Fla. Lindquist began estimating reinforcing steel in the late 1970s and then ventured on to serve as an estimator for a masonry contractor. She earned her general contractor license and ultimately found work with Seretta in 1991. She advises young women interested in breaking into this male-dominated field to search for a contractor that self-performs the work. “It's much easier to get out and learn what really happens in the field,” says Linquist.
“If you work hard and do a good job, the results will follow,” adds Lindquist. “Also, if a woman presents herself as a professional, she will be treated as a professional.”
“There are many opportunities in the tilt-up industry that are suited to women,” says Tile-Con Corp.'s Jo Ella Schroeder, who is now the company's vice president of construction. “Women tend to be very detail-oriented and thorough,” she explains. “These talents are well-suited to many positions, such as engineering, estimating, detailing, project management, and contract administration.”
This attention to detail also naturally gives women an advantage in designing tilt-up projects, says Karen Hand, a project manager and project engineer for Kansas City-based Needham & Associates, a consulting engineering company. “Women are typically more extroverted than many male engineers,” explains Hand. “We tend to be our own project managers and coordinate well with other trades.”
Getting women on board
Sensing the valuable roles that women can play within their organizations, some tilt-up company managers have begun to actively recruit women for open positions. These efforts start at the college level and they give women avenues for networking once they are in the field. For instance, executives from Woodland Construction reach out to women with construction-related majors at Middle Tennessee State University.
Perhaps Hensel Phelps Construction Co., of Greeley, Colo., is the most progressive. Hensel Phelps sponsors an intra-organizational group called W-Net, designed specifically for women in the company.
“We get involved in the community, support women in the company, promote women in construction at colleges, and work hard to make a difference in the construction industry,” says Rebecca Waldo, a Hensel Phelps field engineer.
Angela Perry, another Hensel Phelps field engineer, says the company went out of its way to make her feel valued as a woman in construction. “It started by letting me do one of my interviews with a female project manager,” she explains. “I was able to ask questions about how females were treated [within the company], and she successfully eased any fears or doubts I had about working in construction.”