A Sustainable Workforce Starts With You

President of National Association of Women in Construction Says Women Should “Go For It!”

The head of the National Association of Women in Construction says the absolute most important thing she can say to women considering jobs in the industry is “don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it.”

During the association’s national conference in Nashville this past week, NAWIC President Sandy K. Field told Construction Citizen that the current labor shortage “is really at all levels” and the result of that is an even more attractive situation for women.  She said entry level jobs are certainly open but there are also management opportunities like assistant project managers.  Those jobs, of course, can lead to even higher management positions.  “Lots of companies I know have a great need for that,” Field said.

“Women sometimes don't have the self-confidence that our male counterparts do,” Field said and quickly added “we, as women, just need to say ‘hey, I can do this.’”

Field began work in construction as a bookkeeper for a homebuilder, and over the last few decades worked her way up to management in a minority-owned firm in Houston.  The opportunities for women are endless, she said, based largely on how hard a person is willing to work to achieve their goals.

“There may be some bumps and stumbles along the way but you pick yourself up, learn from those, and move on,” Field said.  She has been working with community colleges to help bolster various certification programs “that are not four-year degree programs but if someone can be certified within a year that puts them in a great position.”

More than 400 people attended the NAWIC’s convention, Field said.  NAWIC’s mission is to enhance the success of women in the construction industry, according to the association’s website.  “The conference features 22 seminars and workshops targeted to women and the construction industry.”

“If I can continue to educate myself ... then hopefully I can be a better leader,” Field said.  As national president, Field said her conversations with women around the country have taught her that “there really is opportunity everywhere.”

Field, who lives and works in Southeast Texas, said the state's construction sector is booming – something people might not expect given the much lower prices of oil.  “The only thing that really affected us during the recession in Texas was the banks stopped loaning for some construction projects,” she said, but that has now turned around.

“I can't tell you how many hotels are being built in downtown Houston,” Field said with the laugh.  She also noted that school districts have been passing bond issues funding billions in new campus construction and renovations all over the region.  It is also worth noting that for the first time in a decade, the Texas Legislature this year authorized billions in college construction bonds.

“If you've got a dream, go for it!” Field said to any woman taking a serious look at taking the first step toward entering the industry.

For more information on the National Association of Women in Construction, check out their website.  For comprehensive information about careers in the industry, browse the Craft Careers section of Construction Citizen.