It’s International Women’s Day! It also happens to be the National Association of Women in Construction’s WIC (Women in Construction) Week, which was created to support women in the construction industry.
LD has several women in construction and we’re taking this opportunity to highlight these extraordinary employees. We’re also offering women and girls who may be considering a career in construction some industry insights from our experts.
Careers in construction, and careers at LD, span from leaders to laborers, and everything in between. Our women in construction work in a variety of departments and roles. Some of which include architecture and design, accounting, engineering, estimating, project management, marketing, accounting, and in the field.
We asked six of our women in construction to share their experiences and advice on construction careers. The LD employees include:
- Michele Dzielinksi, an estimating assistant with 21 years of construction industry experience
- Sara Hanske, Local 41 Laborer and 11-year construction industry veteran
- Jennifer Medley, a project assistant with 27 years of construction experience
- Gina Merkel, a project engineer with 16 years of experience in construction
- Cassie Phelan, a project engineer and 22-year construction veteran
- Amanda Watson, marketing manager with 17 years of construction industry experience
How would you describe your role?
“Working in the Estimating Department, being basically the first step in obtaining projects is fulfilling. The fact that Estimating, as a team; is able to ‘create’ work for the company and all its employees is very gratifying.” – Michelle Dzielinksi
“I am a project engineer and I assist the project manager with the job. I consider it a position that will help me learn the day-to-day duties and responsibilities of becoming a project manager. I assist with scheduling, submittals and shop drawings, estimating, and coordination between the field superintendent and the in-office project manager.” – Cassie Phelan
“I am the marketing manager for LD and it’s my job to promote the company and its people and to highlight all the amazing things that we’re doing. It’s a very exciting role because I feel like I’m a part of everything, and there is a lot going on!” – Amanda Watson
What is your favorite thing about the construction industry?
“Knowing that I am part of a team that is instrumental in the construction of a new or existing building. I definitely feel a measure of pride when I am out in the community and see a building that LD worked on.” – Michele Dzielinksi
“The excitement of seeing a project go from a hole in the ground to a completed project.” – Gina Merkel
“My favorite thing about the construction industry is that the end result is a tangible product. It starts as an idea for an architect and gets drawn and put on paper. From there, people build something you can see and touch and be proud to say, ‘we built that.’ There are also so many different types of construction projects. You could build a parking lot, a football stadium or a three-story hospital. You’ll never be bored in construction, that’s for sure.” – Cassie Phelan
What challenges have you faced as a woman in construction?
“Like other careers, the biggest challenge is balancing family and the job, and the work required to do your best at both.” – Gina Merkel
“I wouldn’t say I’ve faced many challenges, other than being respected for knowing my job. This is definitely a ‘man’s’ career but has changed dramatically since I first started in the industry in 1996.” – Jennifer Medley
“I’d say my biggest challenge as a laborer is having to prove myself, to prove that I can handle the role. You come across some men that believe women shouldn’t be out in the field and they can be rude. So, in those situations it’s tough mentally.” – Sara Hanske
What’s the most difficult part about a career in construction?
“Being ready for the next challenge that comes your way.” – Gina Merkel
“As a laborer, not knowing if you’ll be working sometimes is the most difficult part of my career. You never know if you’ll be laid off for a week or three months, and you need adjust your lifestyle accordingly. I also think it’s tough going to different jobs and working with new people. I find that tough only because I, myself get nervous that again I have to prove that I can work hard and get the job done to new people.” – Sara Hanske
“Marketing for construction can definitely be difficult at times. There is so much going on day-to-day, it’s hard to keep up with the pace. Trying to keep up with all the projects and their details and making sure I’m promoting as much as possible is a challenge, but it’s never boring.” – Amanda Watson
What is your advice to girls/women interested in pursuing a career in construction?
“If you are looking for a daily changing career then construction is definitely worth it! You’re always learning new technology and helping people understand how projects are built from the ground up. There’s never a dull moment.” – Jennifer Medley
“Do what you love and with hard work the rest will fall into place. Also, it’s good to have a mentor to ask questions, etc.” – Gina Merkel
“Go for it. The construction industry is not what it used to be and certainly not only for men. The percentage of women both in the trades and in the management side is going up. There is potential for large growth in the construction industry as a whole, and women have a lot of opportunities. With more STEM education in grade school and middle schools we’re attracting more women into engineering every day. The trades also realize they need more people and are recruiting more women than ever to work in the construction field.” – Cassie Phelan