Women in Construction Week: In the Field or in the Office, Women Get It Done.
As Women in Construction Week continues, we wanted to dive a bit deeper with two more women who are on the ground and in the office helping teams get projects done! Janet Maiden, a Payroll Manager for Bjork Construction Company, Inc. shared with us how she came upon a career in construction (spanning over 2 decades) by accident after some time off as a stay-at-home mom. Gabrielle Robitaille shared how she worked her way up from administrative assistant, earning her A.A.S in Architectural and Engineering Drafting and getting experience in the field before landing as the Construction Technology Manager with Alberici.
While both of these women do different jobs, a few themes came through in both interviews: the importance of confidence, communication, and how their experience as women has benefited and challenged their journey in an industry that they’ve grown to love.
We started with an easy one, asking them to share what they enjoy about their jobs.
“I love the problem solving, the satisfaction I get when I am presented with a challenging process or issue and am able to identify a way to work through it,” said Gabrielle. “I also love the people, this industry is such an amazing melting pot of characters, each with their own approach, mindset, and skillset.”
Janet commented on the important work she accomplishes behind the scenes. She said, “I value the order and processes that come with payroll. Numbers make sense to me. I appreciate that my position allows me to contribute to an exciting, fast paced industry in a way that I feel comfortable.”
On being a woman in the industry:
Janet mused on the lessons she learned as a mother and connected her parenting style to the way to approaches her job. She said, “Successful parenting requires patience, active listening and clear communication. Is it coincidence then, that these traits are also the foundations of successful team leadership? Nurturing tactics work and their success is proven worldwide.”
Gabrielle reflected on challenges she’s faced and how she’s overcome them. She said that now, she “tries to go into any situation with both confidence and humility. I remind myself that I know what I’m doing, I’m there for a reason, and I add value to anything I’m pulled into. Having this type of approach doesn’t always go over well, there are plenty of people who still have issues with a confident woman in construction, but they are becoming the minority.”
As for getting the job done, they both point to communication as a key to success.
Gabrielle suggests leading with empathy, “I approach experiences and scenarios with the other person in mind, I try to lead in the way I would want to be led.”
Janet reminds us not to be intimidated by big personalities. “Construction is an industry made up of confident, strong-willed individuals who share one goal: Get it done! While their assertiveness is valued and required to move projects to successful completion, these tactics can be intimidating and can translate differently in the office. After years of experience, I now share well-honed assertiveness skills and am not afraid to use them!”
And finally, we made sure to ask them to share some advice for other up-and-coming women in the industry:
“Approach your position with confidence and know that your knowledge and contributions add value to the success of the company you represent,” said Janet. She added, “Also, take advantage of continuing education. I have been fortunate that I have been encouraged to participate in classes and networking opportunities which enable me to learn and improve myself to become more valuable to my industry.”
Gabrielle said, “To my younger self, I would probably say to stay the path, stop second guessing yourself and be confident in your abilities despite your failures. To other women starting out in this business, I would remind them: don’t be scared to ask questions. Know you bring just as much to any team as anyone else in the room. Be okay with being wrong. Learn when to push and when to step back.”
One thing is for sure: no matter what they are working on or how they came to the industry, these women are strengthening their teams, contributing to our communities, and helping to build a more inclusive environment for the next generation of construction professionals. And we are all better for it!