Holland Construction Services is celebrating Women in Construction Week March 6-10. We spoke with Senior Project Manager, Miranda Stevens, who is the Women in Construction Week Committee chairperson at Holland to learn more about this celebration.
How long have you been involved in organizing Women in Construction Week?
I think came together back in 2017. Despite strides that have been made over the last decade, women represent half of the US population but make up only 14% of the US construction workforce, an all-time high, and only 8% of construction managers. We don’t need to read statistics thought to see that women are grossly underrepresented in the industry, generally, and particularly in management and authority roles. I wanted to do something that was a force for positive change. We discussed it internally and were trying to decide if we wanted to make this a day or weeklong event, and ultimately the decision was made to join in the celebration of Women in Construction week! The goal was, and continues to be, to create more camaraderie and empowerment amongst the women in our organization. Since then, Women in Construction Week at Holland has just become bigger and bigger, and we will continue that this year with a full week of events that include activities such as job site visits, guest speakers and YOGA!
What are some of your objectives as you plan out the events and activities of Women in Construction Week?
I want every woman at Holland to feel like they are welcome and belong here, because we are and we do. So, our events and activities are planned to be inclusive of any skill or role and give us something we could experience together, and activities such as yoga provides that. You don’t have to be the best yogi ever and stand on your head with your feet in the air to join us! It’s about experiencing something together and bonding.
I also want to show that while we are all individuals, we are all equals. We all are in this industry with our own experiences and perspectives, we may have taken different paths to get here; but regardless of whether you are a CFO, project accountant, or project manager, at our core, we are building off the hard work of those that came before us and blazing more trails for the ladies out there interested in joining and entering this industry.
What advice do you have to women who either are, you know, early in their career trying to get into construction or even looking at a mid-career change into construction?
I always give three pieces of advice to young women in this industry and the first two really are relevant to anyone, no matter how you identify your gender. The first is “don’t be afraid to ask questions.” No one in this industry knows all the answers and it is ok not to have all the answers yourself. Never be afraid to use your voice.
Second, I also recommend finding a mentor. For women, I don’t think it’s necessary to find a woman mentor, just make sure you have someone who is there to answer questions, challenge, and support you. If a woman mentor is the right fit for you, then you should certainly strive for that, but the most important thing is to find someone who is committed to helping you grow as a professional.
My last piece of advice is “be your authentic self.” Yes, this is a tough business, and we spend time outside on jobsites, but don’t be afraid to be a woman. If you like wearing makeup and having bright pink nails, then own it! Obviously, you need to wear your PPE, but it is possible to do that while being a woman and being yourself.
You spend a lot of time out in the field on job sites. Do you see that more women are considering construction as a career?
Yes, I do and it’s really exciting. I’m seeing a lot of support from both men and women for more gender diversity in this industry and it’s not just for the typical roles like architects, interior designers, or office-based people. I’m seeing more women in leadership roles out in the field. When I worked on The Flats at Dorsett Ridge, that was the most women I have ever seen on a construction site. Celebrations like Women in Construction Week contribute toward showing what women are doing and can do in this industry.
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