Women In Construction Week 2023
As part of Women in construction week and International Women’s Day, we are honoring key members of our construction team and highlighting how to be involved in #WICWeek.
At BKV Group, Women in Construction Week aligns with our culture that is centered on collaboration, diversity, and recognition. It is also an opportunity to revisit the dialogue on what it means for a woman to be making strides in a traditionally male-dominated industry. As such, this week presents an opportunity to educate design professionals and reveal to the next generation of women the possibilities available to them in construction. Meet some of BKV’s women in construction who are changing the face of the industry:
Caryn Chaffin / Senior Construction Administrator
What led you to pursue a career in the construction industry? I started in design, moved to production, and then was asked to perform a punchlist to soon discover that I prefer being in the field ensuring the building was constructed in accordance with the Contract Documents. This works better for a personality that is more independent and a self-starter.
What do you enjoy most about your career? What is the best part of your job? I love getting out in the field and finding errors early in construction that we can help resolve. I am constantly learning new things about building envelopes and code which keeps the job fresh.
What was the most challenging part of your job when you first started? Being accepted. It is a male-dominated field (although not as much now as when I started), but once they know that you know what you are talking about, the respect comes. It’s also important to develop a thick skin and handle things with grace and a sense of humor.
What is a perk about working in the construction industry that people might not know about? For me, there is no specific perk, there is just an opportunity to contribute to the trade in an area that best fits my personality. I had a professor once say that he wasn’t sure where I would “fit in” with architecture. I knew that I was not the best designer and production was limiting, but construction administration didn’t factor into the professor’s thinking because women didn’t go into the field. Yet, if you enjoy it, then the perk is waking up every day and looking forward to a job that you love.
How do you think the construction industry can attract more female candidates? Just letting women know that they can do it if that is what they want to do. No one should have limitations placed on them because of gender or skin color. When I was young, no one talked about women being architects or in construction. I was encouraged to learn typing and homemaking skills, but those things bored me to tears. I knew that I wanted to work in a job that would offer new challenges frequently and would require me to use my problem-solving skills. I was attracted to design, mostly interior design when I was a child, and I loved building “forts” in my backyard. I dreamed about building houses when I was young, and I wish that someone had recognized those interests as being a part of architecture, but I did eventually find my path.
Angelina LaPorte / Construction Administrator
What led you to pursue a career in the construction industry? As an architectural intern at BKV, I was given the opportunity to work with the Construction Administration team and quickly realized it was a good fit for my education and personality. After graduating from the architecture program at the University of Minnesota, I decided to join the CA team full time. I have always enjoyed seeing the design come together in the construction phase and being a part of the collaboration/problem-solving efforts that go into each project.
What do you enjoy most about your career? What is the best part of your job? I enjoy collaborating with so many different people and teams. I get to work with different design teams, contractors, and owners. Seeing the design come together is a huge team effort and very rewarding. Not one project is the same, so every day is something different!
What was the most challenging part of your job when you first started? The most challenging part was having very little construction or nuts and bolts knowledge. There is so much to learn about construction, and I’ve discovered that even the most experienced in the field need to refer to industry specialists at times.
What is a perk about working in the construction industry that people might not know about? I think well-qualified women stand out as candidates for positions, and in many cases offer a fresh perspective to a male-dominated industry. Additionally, construction knowledge is extremely practical and useful in life.
How do you think the construction industry can attract more female candidates? I think companies in the industry can support their female employees by letting their voices/opinions be heard. Leadership positions should be encouraged for qualified female candidates.
Betty Sue Rollins / Senior Construction Administrator
What led you to pursue a career in the construction industry? To be honest, I got thrown into this career and it became my niche and my passion. I liked the problem-solving aspects of construction administration. It’s hands on and “if you can’t build it, how can you design It and draw it.”
What do you enjoy most about your career? What is the best part of your job? Being able to help others achieve their goals, and provide advice and help them along the way. In addition, having a holistic viewpoint of a project, and seeing things from all sides; not just from a drafting point of view. Lastly, I enjoy understanding what the overall objective is from the owner, to the contractor, to the subtractor objective.
What was the most challenging part of your job when you first started? Not having the knowledge and experience to take on the job title, and having a fear of failure upon being thrown into construction without knowing how to build a doghouse. At first glance, I didn’t even know what “male chauvinism” meant until I found myself running meetings with 20 men and me being the only female on site. I understood the definition and meaning pretty quick.
What is a perk about working in the construction industry that people might not know about? Learning what the trends are in the industry and what money buys. Seeing what contractors bid in their contracts with the owners, and seeing what subcontractors provide.
How do you think the construction industry can attract more female candidates? It depends on the person and if they are up for the task. Awareness and having women in the industry is the only option. It is a male-dominated field which we need to support change within.
You’ve heard the statistics before: women in the construction industry make up just 10% of the construction workforce. An important way to change this is committing our time to outreach in communities, and allocating our donation dollars to programs that train women to enter the construction workforce.
Below are national trade-related organizations and pre-apprenticeship programs that help support women who are considering the construction industry as a career. With BKV frequently employing new team members through these channels, you may look to as well, or show support monetarily or through volunteerism:
- WINTER – Women In Non Traditional Employment Roles
- NAWIC – National Association of Women in Construction
- B.O.O.T.S. – Bridging Opportunities with Tradeswoman Skills
- CREW – Commercial Real Estate Woman
For more ways to support and acknowledge this important week in the industry, visit WICWeek.org.