Groundbreak 2023 in Chicago is officially upon us and we’re covering this year’s top sessions so we can bring the event home to you. From cultural transformation to digital transformation, conference speakers are diving into key industry topics and sharing knowledge with their peers and industry experts on how to better their business, build more efficiently and help create a more diverse and skilled workforce.
Follow along throughout the event and check out some highlights as we share updates Live from Groundbreak — the construction technology event of the year.
Two standout panel discussions were laser-focused on gender equity and the role of women in the construction industry. Both sessions illuminated the challenges, successes and future directions of women in construction.
Best Practices for Creating Community for Women in Construction
Women leaders at Procore spearheaded a discussion highlighting actionable strategies to create a supportive community for women in the construction sector.
Emily D’Andrea, Procore’s Head of Global Talent Brand, says organizations must be intentional about listening to the needs and wants of women when building out spaces for them in the industry.
“Something that we’ve done at Procore that I really respect and admire is the fact that we listen to women at Procore. We hear what they want, we hear what they need,” said D’Andrea.
D’Andrea added that developing programs around the needs of women in the company fosters a meaningful environment that allows women to grow and develop within the organization.
Panelists also shared that mentorship programs and allyship from men are also essential in providing women with opportunities to implement authentic and helpful communities where they are respected and supported.
The War for Talent: Women Onsite in the AEC Industry
The second session addressed the ongoing “war for talent” in the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry. With women making up just 11% of the industry workforce, the speakers focused on how to recruit and retain more women in construction roles that are traditionally managed onsite.
Finding properly-fitting PPE is one such challenge in retaining women within the construction workforce. Skanska’s Director of Environmental Health and Safety, Marie Inlow, says if PPE doesn’t fit right, chances are employees are not going to wear it.
“Several years ago our company actually partnered with a PPE vendor out of New York and they tailor-made vests. They made them fit us in the shoulders and at the waist. They have tailor-made vests now for our women and smaller people in construction,” Inlow said.
Speakers stressed the importance of adapting to workforce needs, such as flexible schedules for employees, a key strategy in attracting more women to the field. They also revealed their experiences holding typically male-dominated roles that require them to be onsite for construction projects.
A Skanska superintendent, Johana Godoy, shared that despite assumptions that she works in administration or safety, women occupying field positions in construction is beginning to increase.
“Being a superintendent, I do face a lot of assumptions and a lot of stereotypes. It takes time for those new folks on the project to realize I am the superintendent,” Godoy said. “The more exposure we get and normalize that we are changing the mold, the easier it will become and we no longer have to worry about the stereotypes. We’ll have to worry about what we’re there for, which is to do the same thing as everyone else — get a project done and do what we do best.”