With just 10 percent of construction industry positions today held by women, it is more important than ever to offer young women opportunities to grow, advance, and succeed in the highly male-dominated field.

This charge was the impetus for a recent Women in Construction panel hosted by Building Women in Construction, a student-led organization within the Department of Building Construction in the Myers-Lawson School of Construction.

Building Women in Construction was founded by five female students studying construction-related disciplines at Virginia Tech. The organization strives to provide support and resources to help women succeed in the construction field with a long-term goal of becoming a nationally known organization that offers young women interested in construction careers the opportunity to network within their universities, communities, and the industry.

The 45 students attending the virtual panel had the unique opportunity to network with industry experts and get their questions answered.

Among the panelists were University Building Official Elaine Gall; Director of Renovations Joy Manning; and Assistant Vice President for Planning and University Architect Liza Morris, all from the Division of Campus Planning, Infrastructure, and Facilities. Also on the panel were faculty from the Myers-Lawson School of Construction, Virginia Tech alumni (as recent as the Class of 2019), and other practitioners.

The leaders spoke to their industry experiences, including the expansive range of projects and assignments they have managed and the biggest challenges and opportunities they face in their roles. They also offered advice for women interested in embarking into construction industry careers.

Panelists encouraged young professionals in the field to ask lots of questions and to seek out opportunities for mentorship — both in receiving mentorship and offering it. They emphasized the importance of seeking out allies in both male and female colleagues and never say no to new growth opportunities.

To those women looking to break into the male-dominated construction field, Manning offered these insights.

“Show your eagerness to learn. We look for candidates that have the drive to ask for more, a positive attitude, and willingness to work hard.”

Lisa Alban, project manager for Bozzuto Construction, affirmed the importance of mentorship and supporting fellow female colleagues – in any industry.

“When you get into a position where you have the chance to be a mentor, be a mentor. Help raise girls and young women up.”

Click here to watch the full video from the 2020 Women in Construction panel.

Along with participation in Building Women in Construction, students interested in construction careers are also encouraged to participate in Women in Construction Week, hosted annually in March by the Division of Campus Planning, Infrastructure, and Facilities as part of a National Association of Women in Construction campaign.

The division offers a growing apprenticeship program, engaging men and women already serving at Virginia Tech in new career paths in the trades, and a summer undergraduate internship program during which students rotate through a variety of construction and planning placements.

Students and employees interested in getting involved with Building Women in Construction can email BWIC.VT@gmail.com and visit their Facebook page.

— Written by Christy Myers

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