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Women Leading the Construction Industry

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It’s that time of year again. Autumn is a great time for home repairs and other projects, and there’s something about the falling leaves that inspires people to dig in and get some homework done before settling down for the winter. But while you’re searching the stores for that perfect coat of paint or stocking up on silicone sealant for your new bathroom, do you spare much thought for the people that make the building repair industry tick?

The construction industry has historically been a male industry, and continues to be comprised of mostly men today. Women make up only about 10 percent of the construction business. But that doesn’t mean that women haven’t made their impact on the world of construction and engineering. In fact, some of the most impressive accomplishments in the field have come from women, many of whom overcame great adversity and discrimination to leave their mark. As far back as the 19th century, women were occupying leading roles in major projects. The construction of the Brooklyn Bridge itself was overseen by a woman, Emily Roebling, and Edith Clark spent years advancing the dam building industry.

But what about the current day? Are women still making the same trail-blazing contributions to construction that they always have? Here are some of the leading women in the industry today, many of whom you may never have heard of.

Elizabeth Bigler

Bigler is a project engineer at McCarthy Building Companies, a business she joined in 2015. Bigler was one named one of 2017’s top women in construction by Constructech Magazine. The award is given to women who transform construction jobsites through the use of technology.

Bigler is currently working at the facility that will be home to the new Children’s Health Andrews Institute. She has worked to incorporate new technologies in the development of the institute such as 3D scanning, drones, and various software programs .

Chrystal Stowe

Stowe is a Smoot executive who entered the industry by chance in 1993. Originally a reporter, she fell into the construction industry mostly by chance. She has worked with the redevelopment of public housing and has spent much of her career helping others find their path through the construction industry. As a black woman, Stowe pays special attention to the intersections of race and gender in the construction world. With so few women occupying leadership roles within the industry, Stowe’s accomplishments over her long career stand out as a beacon of change and growth as the workforce becomes more diverse around her.

Dimitra Koutsi

Koutsi is a construction engineer at Tideway. She is a STEM ambassador, intent on encouraging more women and girls to get into construction by providing a strong example, as her father did for her. Koutsi began her career as a graduate engineer in 2014. Her undergraduate degree was in mineral engineering but she found her true passion in on-site engineering. Despite initial resistance from her parents and colleagues, Koutsi has made a career for herself in construction engineering.

Stacey Pray

Pray is a specialist in healthcare construction project management. She started her own company decades ago and is a pioneer for women in construction and business ownership. Pray originally entered the business as an architecture designer, but found her niche in overseeing projects in the healthcare industry. Pray’s business is small, and is that way by design. She manages an 8-person team and has never looked back.

Concepcion Vicente

Like Koutsi, Vicente works for Tideway. Working in the UK is an additional challenge for women in construction since out of all of Europe, the UK has the lowest percentage of women working in construction. Only 5 percent of registered engineers and technicians in the UK are women, and Vicente is a part of that low number. Being foreign-born, she also brings a unique perspective to the British construction industry. It is through the diverse combinations of different perspectives and experiences that the strongest strides forward in an industry are made.

The industry is changing, and the opportunities for women in design and construction are increasing. More attention is being paid to making sure everyone has the opportunity to participate in this fulfilling industry. Schools and businesses are putting in the effort to diversify their rosters and the changes are starting to show. Today, some of the top home renovation bloggers are women. This means that thousands of people every day are turning to women for tips and instructions on fixing up or renovating their homes. And sometimes it’s those little, every day changes that make the most impact.

So the next time you’re embarking on a big home renovation project, consider the people that lead the construction industry, because they may not all be what you expect. 

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