D&B Celebrates Women in Construction Week 2021

In addition to celebrating International Women’s Day this Monday, we’ve also been celebrating Women in Construction Week here at D&B!

It’s no secret that construction is a male-dominated field. In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, only about 10.3% of workers in the construction industry are women. This number has stayed nearly stagnant since the 1990s (see statistics below from the NAWIC):

Across the nation, there are over 1.1 million women in the construction industry. Meanwhile, in a drastic comparison, men come in just shy of 10 million at 9.9 million. Click here to see Construction Coverage’s list of cities with the most women in construction.

Another doubtful secret is that women in the construction industry are most likely to work in office positions. For example, men make up approximately 20% of office / admin roles in the industry, while women make up about 80%. In contrast, men make up nearly 100% of occupations in the construction, extraction, maintenance, and repair fields.

 

Resources for Women in the Industry

We’ve compiled a list of some of the D&B ladies’ favorite resources for women within the industry. Be sure to give their social channels a follow to receive a number of resources.

The National Association of Women in Construction is the leading association for women in construction. Its humble beginnings date back to 1953 when 16 women working in the industry founded what was then known as “Women in Construction of Fort Worth, Texas.” Their goal was to create a support network for women. The organization’s success led to it becoming a national charter in just two years. Today, this organization is still based in Fort Worth, however it has grown exponentially with over 115 chapters throughout the United States. They are committed to championing women to impact the direction of the construction industry, while also strengthening and amplifying the success of women in the industry. They do this by providing education, community and advocacy for women builders, professionals and tradeswomen in all aspects of the industry. According to NAWIC, “The focus of Women in Construction (WIC) Week is to highlight women as a viable component of the construction industry. WIC Week also provides an occasion for NAWIC’s thousands of members across the country to raise awareness for the opportunities available for women in the construction industry and to emphasize the growing role of women in the industry. It is also a time for local chapters to give back to their communities.” The northeast region of the U.S. has 16 NAWIC chapters, with one in Philadelphia and a second in South Central PA. Learn more about becoming a member here, and view their resources here.

 

If you missed our first blog post, be sure to check it out to learn all about Xena workwear for women. This company is all about inspiring girls to pursue careers in STEM and the trades… and did we mention they are OSHA compliant while also being comfortable and stylish?! No wonder the ladies at D&B love them so much. See below for a picture of D&B team members, Angela and Jessica, rocking their Xenas on the job site for Riverfront Federal Credit Union.

 

We also love the Women in Construction Summit Blog, which serves as a great resource for women in the industry. While you are at it, have you checked out Women Construction Owners & Executives USA (WCOE)? Located in Washington D.C., they aim to provide a network of executive women in the construction industry for mentorship, peer-to-peer assistance, information and support. Last but certainly not least, the Professional Women in Construction (PWC) is a nonprofit organization that works to support, advance, and connect women and promote diversity within the architecture, engineering, construction (AEC) and related industries. It all began in 1980 when eight women started attending industry events together in New York City. They knew their presence would be stronger together than individually. That same mentality resonates throughout the organization today throughout their five chapters located in New York, Boston, Connecticut, New Jersey and Philadelphia.

 

The D&B Ladies

True to the NAWIC’s mission, we wanted to highlight the talented, innovative and powerful women who make up the D&B team. We’d be remiss to end Women in Construction week without recognizing them. Learn more about them, their impressive accomplishments, their advice to other ladies looking to join the industry, and how they started working in construction in our Q&A below:

 

 

Meet Beth Varone-Barrer, Project Coordinator at our Reading Office

 

Time with D&B: Beth celebrated her 5 year anniversary with us in November.

How Beth Enhances our Team: Without Beth, we aren’t sure where we would be! She is such a vital part of our company, handling so many daily operations. She is loved by our clients who always have nothing but positive things to say about their experience with Beth and how helpful she is to them. Beth has a keen eye for design and helping our clients select the perfect options for their project.

Q: Did you always plan on being in this industry?

A: No. I realized I wanted to be in the industry when I started working at D&B. The energy was contagious, and I enjoyed seeing a vision come to life. I started as an Administrative Assistant for Al, Dan and Brennan. Jess McAllister would ask me to assist her with selections and research for projects, which I really enjoyed. When she moved on, she went to bat for me, and I was given an opportunity to assist with selections. From there, it grew into a Project Coordinator position. I was hooked. I love what I do!

 

Q: What do you love most about working in this industry and why?

A: The process and purpose! Someone has an idea, and our team brings it to life. There are many moving parts, and that keeps what I do interesting and never boring. I work with an exceptional group of experienced men and women that teach me something every day, and I appreciate that they share their knowledge with me. l enjoy continuously learning.

 

Q: If you could give your younger self one piece of advice what would it be?

A: If you want to, you can do anything!

 

Q: What is something you’ve accomplished since at D&B that you are most proud of? 

A: I am a Project Coordinator! When I started with D&B, I did not realize that there was room to grow and advance. I am so grateful to Al, Dan and Brennan for giving me the opportunity to challenge myself and grow personally and professionally.

 

Q: Have your daughters and granddaughter ever shown interest in being in the same industry as you? What do they want to be when they grow up?

A: My daughter, Remington, is an EIT working for a firm in Malvern. I am so proud of her and how she has grown personally and professionally, learning to navigate in a male-dominated industry. I love that we have the industry in common, and of course she always teaches me something. Although my other two daughters are not in the industry, I would support their decision if they ever chose to work in construction. I am also very proud of the strong women they are! My advice to my three daughters is and has always been, “If you want to, you can do anything!” Guess what I tell my granddaughter? “If you want to, you can do anything!”

 

 

Meet Jessica Nelis, Operations Manager at our Reading Office

 

Time with D&B: Jessica is celebrating her four year anniversary with us in July!

How Jessica Enhances our Team: Jessica first joined us as a LEED AP certified Project Manager, with experience creating custom branded retail fixtures for renowned clients like Calvin Klein, Michael Kors FootwearBirkenstock, and The North Face. She has managed projects ranging from single flagship stores to national rollouts, designing over two dozen Harley-Davidson showrooms from Juneau, Alaska to St. Augustine, Florida. Jessica has completed many impactful projects for clients such as Tower Health, Penn National Gaming, S&T Bank and more. After nearly 4 years as one of our Project Managers, Jessica recently shifted into a new role as our Operations Manager where her many skills as a management professional shine.

 

Q: Did you always plan on being in this industry?

A: Yes. Originally, I was looking to go into design. I graduated from Philadelphia University with a BS in Interior Design. I started my career there before moving over to the construction side of the field.

 

Q: What do you love most about working in this industry and why?

A: I like starting with a problem, working from a single idea, developing it into a full concept (which in turn is planned down to every detail) and then executing to bring a single basic concept into a tangible, physical building. 

 

Q: Would you say there are more women in the industry since you first started? Why / why not? 

A: It’s hard to say, but I just read an interesting opinion in Reading Eagle’s business section on the need to tap into women to fill a huge upcoming talent gap in the construction workforce, so I definitely feel like it will be more diverse in the next few years.

 

Q: What advice would you give to younger women / girls looking to join construction or any other trade / STEM career path? 

A: Just because you’re the only woman in the room, doesn’t mean you don’t belong there!

 

Q: If you could give your younger self one piece of advice what would it be?

A: Be bold, take risks and speak up.

 

Q: What is something you’ve accomplished since at D&B that you are most proud of? 

A: Taking on new challenges in both residential and commercial divisions, and being able to walk finished spaces with happy customers!

 

Q: What is something you’ve accomplished during your time in the industry that looking back you never knew you would? 

A: Working with big brands to create retail store experiences throughout the country in high-end shopping malls, department stores, airports and in hig- end shopping districts!

 

Q: Your favorite quote / piece of advice?

A: “Women need to shift thinking ‘I’m not ready to do that’ to thinking ‘I want to do that and I’ll learn by doing that.’” – Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook

 

 

Meet Lesley Yocum, Project Manager at our Philadelphia Office

Time with D&B: Lesley just celebrated one year with Team D&B in February!

How Lesley Enhances our Team: Lesley came to D&B with 16 years of industry experience and a degree in Architectural Design from Lincoln Technical Institute. She has completed work for impressive clients like Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital of New York, New York Presbyterian Hospital, Capital Health, and Inspira Health, to name a few.

 

Q: Did you always plan on being in this industry?

A: Yes and no. I studied and started my career in the Architectural field. After spending 15 years designing, I found that I enjoyed being on site more than in the office. I started to talk with my husband about the possibility of a career side step. It just so happened that D&B was hiring when I decided to move forward with the change. The stars aligned.

 

Q: What do you love most about working in this industry and why?

A: I enjoy the process. The planning, problem solving, seeing it come to life and ultimately the final product.

 

Q: What has been the hardest part of pursuing a career in construction, a field that is mostly male-dominated?

A: Respect from the older generation. Some are set in their ways. But respect is also earned, so it takes a bit of time sometimes, but we always get there.

 

Q: Would you say there are more women in the industry since you first started? Why / why not? 

A: In the construction industry, sadly no. But I’ve only been here a year. In the Architectural side, YES! I have high hopes that it will start trickling over into construction.

 

Q: What advice would you give to younger women / girls looking to join construction or any other trade / STEM career path? 

A: It’s a career that you can be proud of. Go for it!

 

Q: If you could give your younger self one piece of advice what would it be?

A: Always walk away knowing you did your best.

 

Q: Your favorite quote / piece of advice?

A: In a world where you can be anything, be kind.

 

Q: Has your daughter ever shown interest in being in the same industry as you? What do they want to be when they grow up?

A: My daughter builds! She will take all her toys and build a tower, castle or house. Her structures are detail-oriented, and she will build and rebuild something until it’s perfect to her. Currently, she’s four years old and wants to be a Mom.

 

 

Meet Angela Cremer, Marketing and Communications Coordinator at our Reading Office

 

Time with D&B: Angela has enjoyed being part of Team D&B for nearly 6 months now, having started in October 2020.

How Angela Enhances our Team: Angela is an ambitious and proactive communicator who tells D&B’s story through multiple channels. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from Albright College with a degree in Public Relations and Advertising.

 

Q: Did you always plan on being in this industry?

A: No.  I majored in Public Relations and Advertising in college and have done marketing for a variety of different industries, from nonprofits to fashion. In 2017, I became the Director of Public Relations for a restoration company, also a more male-dominated industry like construction. Although I never really had a plan to enter the AEC industry, I have found there are countless opportunities, and I enjoy being part of it.

 

Q: What do you love most about working in this industry and why?

A: Each day is different. I love getting to go to our many job sites to document the process as our team transforms a rendering into reality. It’s a privilege to be able to share that process with the world. I have the upmost respect for our team members and everyone in the industry. They put in long days of hard work on the job site, either building something from the ground up or re-envisioning a pre-existing building into something to better benefit our communities.

 

Q: What has been the hardest part of pursuing a career in construction, a field that is mostly male-dominated?

A: I think a lot of women would agree that gender bias is more alive than most of us may want to admit this day in age. That’s one of the reasons I enjoy working here and in this industry. Even though most of my days are spent in the office, the days I do get out on the job site help to break down such biases. The more ladies that continue to enter this male-dominated industry, the more “normal” it will become to see a woman in a hard hat on the job.

 

Q: What advice would you give to younger women / girls looking to join construction or any other trade / STEM career path? 

A: Glass ceilings are meant to be shattered. Don’t limit your goals and aspirations based on what is expected of you or considered the norm. Be the outlier. That’s how we create change.

 

Q: What is something you’ve accomplished during your time in the industry that looking back you never knew you would? 

A: I’m relatively new to the team, but when I am out on a jobsite gathering footage I make it a priority to ask more questions. It is a goal of mine to become more well-versed in construction terminology. Just last week while at our active construction site for CHOP Souderton, our Superintendent John was more than happy to answer my questions and teach me a thing or two. I’m appreciative of our team members for taking the time to do that. This is how we collectively grow as a company.

 

Q: Your favorite quote / piece of advice?

A: “Some days it storms, some days it shines. This is how flowers grow.” This is my go to reminder that not every day is going to be great, and that’s necessary. We can’t appreciate the ups without the downs.

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