Being a woman in an industry predominantly and historically pursued by men does not have to be the incredible struggle it was decades ago. Fortunately, women have pioneered their way into most construction-related careers. These women, our mentors, entered into classrooms, worked in offices, engaged around conference tables, walked onto project sites and earned leadership positions as the only female in their environment. They broke stereotypes, they forged the path to make ours a bit more navigable.
Of course, our journey is not without challenge, but with challenge comes opportunity. With over 25 years of experience, I’ve learned a thing or two about what it takes to be successful in our industry.
Stay balanced beyond your typical 8-5
Construction is an ever-evolving industry where no two days are the same. While every project and jobsite are different, all are driven by deadlines. Practice self-discipline and focus your time on the most important outputs, but also know when to press the off-button. Having a strong work ethic doesn’t mean working around the clock. Self-awareness is crucial, know when it’s time to step up or when it’s time to step away. Overall, maintaining a work-life balance will make you more successful at your job.
Confidence is key
Many females in construction feel apprehensive about supervising or giving direction to their teams. What’s the best way to overcome this? Be actively involved onsite and take part in the bricks and mortar no matter what your position. Prove that you know what you are talking about, but also ask questions and show you are willing to learn from those who may have more experience. Once you start building a relationship of familiarity and trust, working together becomes second nature.
It’s OK if you don’t know the answer
Don’t feel obligated to respond right away. Think through your responses and ask questions. Listen and you will find that people love to share their knowledge. In doing so, you will gain more respect from your colleagues because although they may not get an instant answer, they know they are getting the right one.
The world of construction goes beyond a hammer and a hard hat. From specific trades to engineering, accounting and marketing, this industry offers an array of opportunities in all aspects of business. Take ownership of your career, don’t be afraid to take on new challenges and always be willing to learn.
Amy Berg serves as President of S. M. Wilson. She has more than 25 years in the construction industry. Prior to becoming President of S. M. Wilson, Amy acted as Vice President of Business Development. Amy helped grow S. M. Wilson from $64 million in revenue in 1996, when she joined the firm, to the firm’s current revenue of $250 million. She was instrumental in the development of new business, establishing public relations and marketing strategies, and client retention.