Building together: Women in construction look to each other for support
When Barbara Armand, president of construction management company Armand Corporation, was losing her footing during the economic downturn, she knew she needed to broaden her market beyond southern New Jersey. So, she set her sights on expanding the business to New York City. That was when she received what she calls "a good omen" — an email from the National Association of Professional Women in Construction, a nonprofit networking group. “I bought a ticket to their event in New York City and was embraced by the leadership, encouraged to establish a presence [in the city] and given emotional support," she said.
As she later traveled to Manhattan to market her business, PWC members offered their assistance, including space to work. “I was floored by the level of support and took advantage of every idea, every outreach that was offered,” said Armand, who today is PWC board president.
Woman have long been a minority in construction, struggling to gain acceptance in a male-dominated field. Today, women make up about 9% of the building industry, compared to 47% of the overall U.S. workforce. To survive — and get ahead — they’ve looked to each other for mentoring, access to education and other support. One result of that collaboration has been the recent rise in professional organizations for women, by women at the local, state and national levels.
Revamping the model
A quick online search pulls up Armand’s group, PWC, along with the National Association of Homebuilders Professional Women in Building Council (PWB), the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC), Women Construction Owners and Executives (WCOE), Women in Construction Operations (WiOPS), the Women Builders Council (WBC) and the National Association of Black Women in Construction (NABWIC) as a few of the professional organizations serving women in the field.
When Carole Jones became a member of PWB’s original incarnation, the NAHB’s Women’s Auxiliary, in 1988 “it was more wives whose husbands were in the industry who got together” for events like holiday parties, she said. Jones is now nearing retirement in her role as vice president and controller of Robert R. Jones Homes in Bloomfield Hills, MI. She is PWB’s immediate past chair and this year will be inducted into the Home Builders Association of Southeastern Michigan’s Hall of Fame for her work on the PWB Council.
Today, PWB has 1,500 members in 43 councils across the country offering networking, education, leadership training and scholarships to professional women in the industry. The largest PWB group is within the Home Builders Association of Metro Denver and has 200 members. In 2015, production homebuilder Chris Presley, president and founder of Epic Homes, became the first female president of the Denver HBA and founded the PWB chapter there. “We never expected the kind of response we got,” Presley says. “It suggested that, at least in the Denver market, it was long overdue to have a way for women to engage.” Read the Article in Construction Dive

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