WE TELL OUR children “the sky is the limit” when they pick a career. Those skies are opening up to women. More than ever, grade schools, high schools, and colleges encourage women to pursue technical careers—the same careers that were off-limits to them less than 50 years ago.

Despite this, gender equality still takes awhile to catch up. The number of women currently in technical careers is less than men. Women enrolled in university engineering programs rarely exceed 30% of the engineering student body. But the numbers are increasing in some technical fields. By 2005, 22% of all architects were women.

The past several decades have been marked by notable changes in the labor force. Women's participation is significantly higher today than it was in the 1970s. Also, the proportion with a college degree roughly tripled from 1970 to 2008. Unfortunately, women are still lagging in construction, representing only 8% of the labor force.

Industry influencers

This makes the women working in construction even more special. These influencers are making a difference every day. Breaking down the barriers means these women are dedicated individuals who are leaders not only among women, but for the entire industry.

This year at World of Concrete, the Women in Concrete Breakfast and Forum will present three women who are making a difference.

Susan Lane, program manager of bridges and transportation structures at PCA, is deeply involved with infrastructure and the issues behind the funding for the needed repairs. She previously has worked as an engineer, an adjunct professor, and at the U.S. Department of Transportation. Lane has learned how to push past any barriers and to make a difference. She is now a well-known and trusted resource on this very important issue.

Kathy Reissig is the marketing manager for Stone Construction Equipment Inc., of Honeoye, N.Y., a 100% employee-owned company which designs and manufactures light construction equipment. Stone is a successful company, even in these hard economic times. Reissig exemplifies what strong leadership is in difficult times.

Erin Williams Christie, a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University's Concrete Industry Management program, is the environmental director for Ready Mix USA, Birmingham, Ala. She has already broken the barriers at a young age and now she's poised for leadership. As Christie encourages more women to follow her lead, the concrete industry will see more qualified women entering the field.

Kari Moosmann is a freelance writer based in Woodridge, Ill. Women in Concrete brings you stories about women who are making a difference in the concrete industry. Send your ideas and comments to karimoosmann@aol.com.

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Attendees enjoy camaraderie and listen to the informative speakers at the Women in Concrete events at World of Concrete.

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The Women in Concrete event moves to the morning this year to accommodate those who are busy on the show floor during the day. Also this year, we will introduce the Women in Concrete Alliance, a new networking resource for women. To register, visit www.worldofconcrete.com.