Women in Construction: What’s The Key?
“Being a woman in construction I think there are a lot of obstacles…”
Recently Savanna Smith, a senior studying Construction Sciences at Texas A&M sat down with Procore and discussed the obstacles she is already facing when entering the Construction industry. Her advice to any woman looking to join the industry, or those already in it, “confidence is key”. At Dellbrook | JKS we are always striving to break down boundaries when it comes to our industry, this includes stigmas. We were curious how the women of Dellbrook | JKS felt toward the topic, their experiences, and how is Dellbrook | JKS doing it differently?
We asked a few of our female staff how they relate to this topic:
Jordan Soden – Project Engineer: “I haven’t been in construction too long but I do notice that this is very true. Confidence for women in the field is so important and even then sometimes it is not enough. You are definitely treated differently than the guys. There is a crazy double standard when it comes to women in construction. I experienced this most in college as a teacher’s assistant for an entry level construction class. The class had a woman professor and two women TA’s (which is basically unheard of). In the year that I did this I had been yelled at, forced to file a sexual harassment claim against a student, told I was wrong and just blatantly disrespected. I experienced the similar stigma towards my gender during the interview process as well. I was shrugged away at job fairs for the guys that had less experience and worse grades. I would have to dress nicer, and even go to extremes as taking off my promise ring before attending any of these events. Although it is not ideal to have to deal with these things it has made me into the person I am today, because I used to be shy and unsure, but now I have noticed I am more confident. After graduation I was unsure of whether I should stay in New York or taking a risk and coming to Massachusetts to work for Dellbrook JKS, and what pushed me to here was that I was treated like everyone else throughout the interview process. Everyone I talked to were very welcoming and made it seem like they wanted to push me to be my best, not just put me in the box they believed I belonged in.”
Carolyn Kimball – Project Manager: “Projecting confidence is key. Some folks may not immediately assume that the woman there is in charge or knows what she’s talking about. Those people are getting fewer with every passing year, but sometimes people defer to the man on the team, even if the woman outranks him, out of a misguided sense of ‘he must be the one in charge’. Projecting confidence, competence and authority can help ensuring that doesn’t happen. That doesn’t mean you have to talk to people like you’re the dictator, though. The flipside to projecting confidence is projecting that a bit too much and people can find it very off-putting. The same words when delivered from a man or a woman in the same tone, can be received differently. It’s a delicate balance. What seems to help the best is just getting to know people. This is a people business. You get to know your subcontractors and project teams on a personal level. When you get to know people as people and not just as their role in the project, and they get to know you as well? A lot of the preconceived notions will fall away.”
Caroline Gutterson – Assistant Project Manager: “Confidence is key, I couldn’t agree more. There is such a thing as confidently asking a question. If you don’t know something and you want to, you ask the question. The only bad question is one that has already been answered for you. Listen, ask questions, stay organized, and be confident. I think that’s the recipe!”
See the rest of Savanna’s interview below