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We’ve all been to networking events where people ask “What do you do?” When I tell people that I’m a construction manager, they often want to know what it’s like being woman in the male-dominated construction industry. That’s when I share my experience with an early mentor in the industry.
Not long after starting my construction management firm, I was referred to a contractor by a mutual friend who thought he’d be a good mentor for me because of his residential and commercial construction experience. He was skeptical to meet me because whenever he met a woman in the construction industry, she had the goal of finding a husband – not because of a keen desire for the work.
After learning more about me and my inspiration for becoming a construction manager, he came to the conclusion that I was the “real deal” and had no hidden agenda. That set the tone for a successful mentor-mentee relationship based on mutual respect.
What I admired about my new mentor was that, despite his initial skepticism, he never inferred that I was not capable of doing the job of a construction manager because I was a woman. In fact, since I was focusing on the residential remodeling market and since women initiate 80% of home improvement purchasing decisions, being woman could be an advantage. However, he did let me know that until there are more women in construction industry working on job sites, I would encounter skepticism and unconscious bias since women in the industry were historically employed in office roles, not in the field.
Homeowners prefer working with someone that listens more than talks and makes them feel heard. The fact that I happen to be a woman that possess these characteristics has helped lower their anxiety and build trust early on.
So what’s it like being a woman in the construction industry? For me, it’s awesome helping people bring their dream homes to life.
This article was originally published on monicadhiggins.com