Construction has long been thought of as the provenance of man. Even as women achieve greater entrances into high-powered careers, the person with a jackhammer breaking up the sidewalk is almost always a man. But, finally, it looks like things are changing.
Across the United States, women have been gaining ground in the construction industry — an industry so large that even the tangential construction equipment industry brings in $145.8 billion across the globe each year. In total, about 9.8 million Americans work in construction, and each year that number includes more women. And they are doing it the same way women have been able to achieve success in countless other industries: supporting each other.
In Minnesota, women have been the driving force behind the State Capitol building renovations. From the inception of the renovations by state Senator Ann Rest to the assessment and planning by HGA Architect and Historical Preservation Specialist Ginny Lackovic — and even the the electricians and construction workers — women have dominated the renovation of the State Capitol.
“Every meeting you go to, every time you turn around, it was mostly women at the table,” said Lackovic in an interview with MinnPost. “I’ve never had a project like that, with such a representation of women from every angle, at all levels.”
Project manager Rebekah Hudson got her civil engineering degree with the intention to do design work but quickly fell in love with on the job construction. “I don’t really like just sitting at my desk,” she said. “I love being involved and seeing a project from the beginning to the end.”
Over a thousand miles away, in Texas, the top women from North Texas’s commercial real estate industry gathered for the year’s first Ladies in CRE (LCRE) event. In Texas, as well as many states, real estate is a top priority among investors, 89% of whom are interested in real estate investment opportunities. But traditionally, it has been difficult for women to gain traction in the field.
LCRE was founded to help young women overcome the barriers to entry in the industry, and so far, it has been a smash success. As Co-founder Allison Johnston puts it in an interview with D Magazine, “It’s to the point now where you can call the construction-business development girl who comes to the events, or is on the leadership team, because you want to give her business—or send a deal to a tenant rep broker because you’ve developed a relationship with her.”
Of course, women helping women is not a new trend. In fact, a study from the New York advocacy firm Catalyst shows 65% of women who benefit from development assistance will return the favor, compared to only 56% of men.
Still, the increased opportunity in the realm of construction and commercial real estate represents another big gain for women in the world of business.