It’s Women in Construction Week and today is International Women’s Day. At AN, we’ve already kicked off the month honoring women’s contributions to the AEC Industry. At our Facades+ conference in Atlanta last week, this conversation took center stage with AEC Rising: Women in Design & Construction Roundtable.
For the discussion, NELSON’s Studio Director, Teresa O’Leary was joined by Holly Gottfredson, the President of American Metalcraft; Madison Galloway, VDC Leader at Hoar Construction; and Alexandria Champagne, Senior Preconstruction Manager at New South Construction. Rebecca Churio, Associate at NELSON moderated the conversation. Participants shared their perspectives on topics across the spectrum of professional practice.
The conversation focused on ways in which the AEC industry is undergoing a long-term culture shift.
The demographics of women’s participation in the building industry has grown exponentially and leadership in firms have also grown. Despite advances, women still face challenges in the workplace whether it’s having their commitments questioned (work/life/family balance) or perceptions of safety or ability on the jobsite.
They spoke on challenges women faced but also the advantages that women bring to the field. Concurring with the findings of the recent National Center for Construction Education & Research (NCCR) report, “In Her Own Words: Improving Project Outcomes,” Madison Galloway spoke to the perception that females in construction are better at jobsite organization, cleanliness, safety, and concern for team dynamics.
Panelists spoke about the importance of education and reaching girls early to show them that there are lots of careers in the trades for them despite a persistent perception of construction as a gender-specific activity.
Mentorship was a popular topic as participants described the importance of workplace support from both men and women starting their careers. Participants had been in the industry from 5 to 30 years and described massive transformations within even a short amount of time. Firms have embraced diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives from within and continue to be encouraged by external organizations and industry groups.
This progress across the industry is supported by on-the-ground organizing by women and allies within the AEC communities across the country.
Our panelists have suggested the following organizations and groups as resources to support women in our field. You can get involved in local initiatives or support some of these national programs.