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Advancing Women in Construction Club at ASU encourages women to break barriers

The club has successfully fostered a support network for women to step foot in a male-dominated industry

Community-advancing women in construction club

"You are the least voice of the group when it comes to board meetings or technical meetings, or even just being on the field."

In the male-dominated field of construction, women have historically been underrepresented. Despite advancements in gender equality in various industries, the construction sector continues to struggle with gender diversity. 

"It's just kind of interesting how it's evolved," Monica Perrin, an assistant teaching professor and graduate student studying construction management, said. "It's still male-dominated, obviously. But I feel that there (are) more women, and I would love to see even more women in the field because they bring a different dynamic and a different view on how to build as well as manage construction." 

Initiatives like ASU's Advancing Women in Construction club are working to address the gender disparity and encourage more women to pursue careers in construction.

According to Abby Noel, a junior studying civil engineering, being a woman in the construction industry comes with a feeling of needing to prove yourself. 

"It feels more difficult because you are the minority population," Noel said. "You are the least voice of the group when it comes to board meetings or technical meetings, or even just being on the field."

Girls may be discouraged from pursuing an interest in construction-related activities from a young age, perpetuating the notion that it is not a suitable career path.

The distinct lack of female role models in the industry can make it difficult for women to envision themselves succeeding in such a male-dominated environment. Perrin and Megan Mehas, a junior studying construction management and technology, were both women inspired to enter the field because their dads worked in construction. 

According to Perrin, she conducted a survey of around 30 women in the industry, and a common theme found was that they felt better supported by both male and female mentors. 

"A new man can come into a meeting, and they seem to be heard quicker than a woman is heard," Perrin said. "In the end, the women do very well, but I think it's that transition still." 

The lack of a female presence can deter women from entering or remaining in the industry or feeling like they belong. 

"You do have to have a lot of confidence to start talking and to start saying, 'Hey, I know what I'm doing. Let me in on this conversation.'" Noel said. 

Recognizing the need for greater gender diversity in construction, Advancing Women in Construction Club aims to provide support, resources and opportunities for women interested in pursuing careers in the field. By creating a community of like-minded individuals, AWIC seeks to empower women and break down barriers to enter into the construction industry. 

"It's very welcoming, and I just feel so supported," Mehas, a club member, said. "I could call anyone, and they would help me with anything that I needed."

Moreover, AWIC's affiliation with the National Advancing Women in Construction Chapter allows ASU students to engage with the broader movement for gender equality in construction on a national level. AWIC members can amplify their impact and contribute to positive change within the industry by participating in national conferences, leadership training programs, and advocacy initiatives.

While AWIC plays a crucial role in advancing women in construction, it's essential to recognize that promoting gender diversity is not solely the responsibility of women but of men as well. While Perrin acknowledged that there is still an imbalance, she loves that more women are joining the industry and contributing to their success.

Noel also emphasized the power of believing in oneself. 

"I would say feeling welcome has to do with company culture," Noel said. "Feeling confident comes from within." 

Edited by Katrina Michalak, Walker Smith and Grace Copperthite.

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