The fact that the construction industry has skewed predominantly male for some time now, only makes us that more grateful to have such incredible women in our offices, on our job sites and at the properties we manage. And while we’ve implemented multiple initiatives to ensure we remain committed to hiring, supporting and growing female employees, we know that the work can’t—and shouldn’t—stop there.
Hear from five of our female employees as they share their experiences, advice for future generations and ways to overcome the gender gap in construction:
- Stephanie Adamczyk, Project Executive, Chicago
- Sam Belyeu, Associate Director of Architecture & Development, Multifamily, Dallas
- Daniela Castellon, Director, Build-to-Suite, Atlanta
- Ale Macias, Preconstruction Specialist, Austin
- Jenna Campbell, Senior Project Engineer, Seattle
Q: What has been the most memorable moment in your career?
Sam: Winning over the difficult clients that didn’t want to work with me based on my gender, not my experience and/or design expertise I was bringing to the table. I purposely go by “Sam,” so unless someone has met with me in person or spoken to me on the phone, the automatic assumption is that I’m male. The occasional email greeting of “Mr. Belyeu” still makes me laugh.
One of my first major meetings early in my career, the client asked for me to get him a coffee. I obliged and brought it back to the conference room to start the meeting. His response was “shouldn’t we wait for Sam?” That was when I introduced myself and asked if he was ready to talk through his design needs. He was embarrassed and profusely apologized. He ended up being a really great client to work with and we can laugh about it now.
Q: What inspired you to pursue a career in the construction industry?
Jenna: I didn’t come from a family of construction nor did I have any construction exposure growing up, but post-college I got an opportunity to work for a civil subcontractor, which is where I met one of my best female friends. She was the only female project manager at the company and was great at her job. I think that was the boost I needed to continue pursuing a career in construction.
Sam: I was always very strong in art and math. I quickly discovered my love for architecture in 6th grade after a design-your-own city project. From that moment, I stayed focused on pursuing a career in. And each time I was told “that’s a man’s profession,” a fire was lit under me to pursue and help shatter those preconceived notions.
Q: What are the advantages of being a woman in construction?
Ale: Bringing a different and valuable perspective to an industry where most of your peers are men. I think in certain ways women have a different approach or thought process, which can provide unique points of view when analyzing, planning and problem solving.
Jenna: For one, you often get your own restroom on jobsites which is a great luxury. Also, you get to bring a different perspective to every issue that arises. Women experience life differently than men do. You get to bring those different experiences to the table and potentially expose a new outlook or resolution.
Q: What advice would you give to a young woman entering the industry?
Ale: Never doubt your instinct or knowledge when it is challenged, or just because “men usually know more about construction than women.” Don’t be shy to speak up and express your concerns and opinions just because you are young or a woman.
Jenna: I would tell young women to not be afraid to speak up. It can be intimidating being the only woman or one of very few women in a meeting setting, especially when you are at a young age, but your input is valuable. It took me a long time to feel comfortable enough to voice my opinions and ideas and it’s still something I occasionally struggle with today.
Stephanie: Work hard, develop thick skin, and remember that you don’t know everything just yet. You’re never supposed to stop learning. I recommend finding a mentor that will challenge you while also providing guidance and support.
Q: What’s the best part of your job?
Daniela: My team. I work with the most open minded, creative and fun individuals who value everyone’s input and when we come to the table, we are all equals. If anyone needs help, we all raise our hands.
Q: How do you think construction can attract more female candidates?
Sam: Networking is always my number one trusted means of recruitment. The more female presence we can have in articles, workshops, job sites and/or career fairs will help to send that subliminal message to others without outright saying it. This is also so important for the younger generations as well. While a children’s book still might have all men characters in the book and illustrations, it’s important for children to know and see females in this industry and open that possibility for them to consider. The only way to break those gender roles are to start in your own home.
Daniela: By ensuring we are sharing what we do with as many people as we can! Growing up, I never knew women could be in this industry or would be accepted. We need to continue to show young women what this world looks like and that you can not only be successful, but that you can enjoy doing it.
Ale: By providing equal opportunities, compensation, and a respectful work environment for them. This is one of my favorite things about working for Ryan; I truly believe they strive to provide this to all of their employees.
Stephanie: It is important that we continue to set an example by spreading the word about, and featuring, women in construction that love their jobs and have a passion about what they do every day. We should also always present the full range of job opportunities in construction to allow candidates to find a role that they enjoy (project management, laborer, superintendent, etc.).
Q: What makes you proud of working in the construction industry?
Daniela: I love that we help bring a vision into reality. There are a lot of lives impacted by the creation of buildings, including community, jobs, and a place for people to grow personally and professionally.
Q: What do you think is the most important change happening in the construction industry?
Ale: A big one for me is seeing more women in executive positions. I feel for the longest time that the industry was a little rigid when it came to how and who should fill certain roles in construction. I’m very happy to be witnessing this transition and seeing how many companies are interested in retaining their employees by giving them the opportunities they deserve—regardless of their race or gender.