By Michelle Bolden, 10 to 1 PR
A recent report from The Washington Post shows that more women than ever are working in the construction industry, finding women now make up 16% of construction workers, up 117% since 2016. The newspaper found the fastest-growing states included Arizona and Oregon. While companies and labor unions are celebrating, those on the front lines know it can’t last without dedicated efforts to change job-site culture. That includes educational outreach, training, mentoring, and zero-tolerance policies for harassment.
It may be intimidating for women to enter a field with such low female representation, but the industry’s successful female leaders provide insightful perspectives on the fulfilling nature of the trade profession. One of the biggest factors in how long people stay is whether a company provides mentoring.
Jessica Ray, for example, has worked with Rosendin, one of the largest electrical contractors in the United States, since 2011. Ray stumbled into the construction industry shortly after graduating college with an education degree. Just as she set out to begin teaching, there were mass layoffs and great uncertainty for education professionals at the time.
As Ray was unsure of her next move, her sister, who was working at Rosendin then, suggested she apply for an Assistant Project Manager position that had recently opened up. Ray was initially worried about how her academic credentials would translate to the construction sector. Nonetheless, her sister encouraged her to consider the opportunity, praising the leadership team, and emphasizing the benefit of mentorship from a longstanding employee in the company’s Oregon office.
“If you want to succeed in this industry you cannot wait for others, you must be proactive and go after what you want.”
“I appreciate all the opportunities that have been given to me, but ultimately, I know that my career advancement depends on me taking ownership of my future. Learning how to navigate effectively in this environment can sometimes be challenging and the experience that Michelle brings to my mentorship has been pivotal to my success,” said Ray.
Ray was fortunate to work under Michelle Doyle, who has worked for Rosendin for the majority of her professional career, beginning as an office assistant in 2007. She was initially drawn to the construction industry because of the competitive pay and benefits. When she started her career in 2000, she was the only woman in the office. Doyle quickly became known as the go-to for women in the office and she was happy to help Ray navigate both the construction industry and her first corporate job.
“I’ve tried to mentor more women because they don’t have as many examples as men. Jessica has come a long way since making that leap as a project manager vs. a staff role. I want her to realize she’s capable of anything,” Doyle states.
Connecting with an experienced professional like Doyle provided Ray with an outlet to ask her questions while learning how to navigate the industry in a leadership role. Doyle’s mentorship and collaboration encouraged Ray to keep pushing herself and gave her the confidence to take on large-scale projects. As Ray advanced within Rosendin to manage high-budget projects, she frequently relied on Doyle’s experience managing one of our longest-running projects in the area. Having Doyle available and eager to share insights and ideas has influenced the local industry’s promotion of female-driven leadership.
Doyle has had a significant impact on Ray’s professional development throughout her career. As a mentor and friend, she consistently encourages colleagues, particularly women, to invest in themselves and their careers, while sharing experiences and lessons learned she had early in her career.
“I lean a lot on Michelle for guidance, she’s been such an invaluable resource for me as I’ve navigated through this industry,” says Ray.
“As we welcome new employees into our teams, I feel that it is important to take the time to understand that every person is unique.”
People learn differently, they communicate differently, and they want to be shown appreciation in varying ways. I believe that to make sure that all our employees feel welcome and valued we must continue to ensure that we take the time to understand what works best for our employees so that they can continue to succeed.”
Doyle’s commitment to inclusivity has influenced many women in the field; she has inspired countless women to pursue a career in the trades. Her trailblazing efforts can still be seen on our sites today, as we see a higher proportion of women on the job.
Equality in construction isn’t just about respect, it’s about safety, so everyone can go home to their families each night. Rosendin is an industry leader in providing a safe and welcoming environment for everyone, but it took a concerted effort from the top down. Rosendin’s commitment to safety through meaningful action and permanent solutions is rooted in its core values: “We Care. We Share. We Listen. We Innovate. We Excel.” This commitment can be seen in the organization’s plethora of programs to empower employees, including its Culture of Care, Unconscious Bias training, policies to identify and train future leaders, and more.
Mentorship is essential in the construction industry to promote internal growth. Having a strong mentor by Ray’s side over the last decade has allowed her the opportunity to continue to learn, grow and ultimately achieve the milestones she has set out to achieve thus far in her career. Doyle has dedicated her career to mentorship and leadership while also setting the standard for inclusive practices in the construction industry.
About the Author:
Michelle Bolden is a Public Relations Executive with 10 to 1 PR. Her lifelong passion for artistic expression and desire to make meaningful connections led her to pursue a career in public relations, and she has made it her mission to share stories that inspire. She has worked with numerous construction companies, exploring the unique industrial challenges workers face, and works diligently to bring awareness to the impactful milestones and developments.