During the first full week in March, many in the construction industry celebrate “Women in Construction Week”, an observance that dates back to 1960.
Today, we have 10.3% of those working in the construction industry are women, and this number is increasing (see dol.gov and bigrentz.com/blog/women-construction). In 2018, 1 in 3 construction companies promoted women to senior roles. Many of the companies for which we provide staffing and career coaching services often comment on the characteristics that accompany the exemplary performers in our industry.
Over many years of working with women in construction, and starting and chairing a Women’s Council for Associated Builders and Contractors, I have found there are a few common traits of women who are esteemed for their work.
- They are top communicators. Regardless of how they feel about their superior’s directives, they control their emotions and support the determined course of action, demonstrating their buy-in to those around them. If they have an issue to address, they communicate to understand and not to undermine.
- They are adaptable. Construction is an industry full of evolving and changing circumstances, and a diversity of people interacting through ever-shifting schedules and challenges. These top performing women are not only organized planners; they are able to serve others around them and achieve results despite the circumstances.
- They are humbly confident. They have the ability to ask for what they need or what is important to them without being needy or commanding. Instead of falling victim to the situation or waiting for someone to see and remove barriers, they take charge of situations themselves.
- They are not naïve. They do not lack wisdom or judgement, irrespective of their level of experience with constructability or exposure to something new. They verify instead of justify, and use their inner instincts to guide them when they suspect follow-up or more follow-through is needed.
The most prevalent character trait they portray is the ability to retain their femininity without allowing it to interfere with their work. They do not use it to gain favor or use it to baselessly invoke it when they feel someone spoke to them or treated them inappropriately.
During my tenure as part of the Women’s Council, we listened to the testimonies of successful executive level women in our industry. All of them that were given more and more responsibility with time, gave recognition to the others in the industry, especially the men, who did not give them special favor or differential treatment as a female. Those men and women who gave them opportunities held them to expectations of the job and company.
To all the women in construction, if you ever need a listening ear, we are here for you.