Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 9 seconds

As the number of women attaining degrees in technical and engineering fields increases, and more women pursue employment in construction project management, there’s a need to bridge the leadership gap that can sometimes prevent women from reaching the highest levels of management.

Several organizations and companies across the country have implemented exemplary initiatives to recruit, train, and develop women as industry leaders at all level of the construction business. In Seattle, Meghan Douris, an attorney with Oles Morrison, has launched Women Leaders in Construction with the goal of providing a platform for women to network and have access to educational and professional development resources.

The group meets several times a year and is open to all construction industry women, or those who support the industry--from project level to the executive tier. The group also launched a Women Leaders in Construction LinkedIn site to promote discussion and encourage participation.

Last fall, Difference Matters Magazine recognized industry goliath Turner Construction Company for its Diversity and Inclusion programs, naming the company to the 2014 list of Allies for Diversity. The aim of their programs is to “foster a culture of diversity and inclusion in which all employees contribute creative ideas, seek challenges, and have the opportunity to thrive,” according to Karen Sweeney, vice-President for Diversity and Inclusion.

In one of their leadership development programs, created by internationally acclaimed leadership expert Susan Colantuono, a group of 21 female employees were selected from several of Tuner’s national and international office locations to participate in a nine-month program that included three group meetings at the Seattle office. The participants received training to develop skills in delivering sustained outcomes, implementing organizational strategy, and understanding the business story behind the financial numbers that drive decision making.

The Association of General Contractors of Washington, and organizations like it, also have brought together executives and managers to discuss women’s leadership training needs in the industry and how to fill gaps in leadership development. Key areas of focus include topics such as communication skills, team building/team management, safety, quality assurance, financial management, and technology literacy and technology management.

There’s no doubt that women want to have increasing levels of managerial responsibility and project oversight in the construction industry. Developing female employees from the moment they graduate college and mentoring them through leadership programs and advancement opportunities is the best way to keep top-tier talent in the labor pipeline and to foster a equitable and inclusive workforce.

Resources for Women in Construction

Leadership Development NAWIC Training Opportunities 

Susan Colantuono, Women’s Leaderhip & Equitable Development

Sharon McGee Training and Consulting

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