Things I Learned from the Groundbreaking Women in Construction Conference

January 16, 2017

Celebration Community Cheerful Happiness Success Concept

This was a post from several years ago and is so much more relevant now:

Yesterday I was on a panel discussion at the ENR Groundbreaking Women in Construction Conference in New York.  It was a great experience for me.  A couple of things that really stuck out:

1.  This was the first time EVER that I was in the minority.  And I mean THE MINORITY!  There were probably five men there out of 300 attendees.  It was a very different feeling.  I never felt out-of-place really, but I did feel outnumbered.  It was a little intimidating.  I finally felt what it must be like for women and minorities at a normal construction conference filled with mostly middle-aged, white men.

2.  I experienced bathroom discrimination for the first time.  I say that with tongue planted firmly in my cheek.  How many times do we men sail in and out of the bathroom at intermission or the seventh inning stretch while the line at the women’s bathroom snakes around the corner for miles?  There were so many women and so few men that they actually put a sign over the men’s restroom that said “WOMEN ONLY”.  I had to go down two floors to use the bathroom.  What a shift in perspective.  Women probably get really frustrated by those long lines and think to themselves, “When are the mostly male architects going to wake up and put in twice as many stalls in the women’s bathrooms?”

3.  Women interact differently than men, at least in construction and engineering.  Men will gather and greet with a cool and somewhat forced confidence.  The interactions are low-key and low energy and the topic of conversation is mostly about business.  When a large group of women interact, the energy is amazing!  It is palpable.  The room is buzzing!  They are animated and talking and exchanging business cards and discussing lots of different things, including non-business topics.

4.  Women have some of the same issues as men.  There are some difference such as childcare that are quite different for men and women, but what I took away was that the skills for a woman to be successful in the construction industry are exactly the same skills that men need.  It’s just in a different context and should be taught in a slightly different way to address their specific needs.  Leadership, presence, self-awareness, and emotional intelligence skills are at least a part of those success factors.  Individuals will likely just be working on different areas.

I look forward to more of these kinds of conferences and hope that other industry organizations will reach out and invite this group to the table.  They deserve a seat at that table.

Check out my ENR Viewpoint article on diversity:

CLICK HERE

Also, I am in the process of finishing up my latest online course on diversity and inclusion as part of the Total Leadership Library. Click here for more information on that.

 


Women in Leadership Roles: It’s about Time!

May 21, 2015

woman leader

“I just love bossy women. I could be around them all day. To me, bossy is not a pejorative term at all. It means somebody’s passionate and engaged and ambitious and doesn’t mind leading.” Amy Poehler

For all of the women out there that are in leadership roles or aspire to a leadership role in the construction/engineering industry, first of all, let me applaud you.  We desperately need more women in the industry.  This is a new focus for me.  The industry needs more women and minorities or we will not be sustainable.  Women add so much.  And with the focus on more collaborative project delivery methods, more women is critical to project success.  According to my research, women have better collaborative emotional skills than men.  Women tend to score higher in empathy, social responsibility, and interpersonal relationships.  Men tend to score higher in self-regard, assertiveness, and independence.

My idea is a two-pronged approach:  First, provide meaningful training to all of the women and minorities so that they can navigate their way through this predominantly male, white world and be successful.  There are some very successful women and minorities in the industry.  It’s just a matter of tapping into that resource, quantify the skills that they utilized to reach that level of success, and create a curriculum to teach these skills.  And I believe that these intangible skills are teachable and learnable.  Second, provide training for the majority (white males) on how to better work with women and minorities.  We have to meet in the middle, have some difficult discussions, go beyond stereotypes, and figure it out.

Check out more resources on this issue:

Check out my ENR Viewpoint Article on Diversity  (you may need a subscription to ENR to view)

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg:

There is a new course on Coursera on Women in Leadership.  I have taken some Coursera courses, and they are pretty awesome.  And they are FREE!

A couple more articles from ENR:

1,000-Strong Tradeswomen Gathering Sees Future in Doubled Apprenticeships

(you may need a subscription to ENR to view)

Industry Women Tackle Still Nagging Worksite Challenges

(you may need a subscription to ENR to view)

If you have some ideas and/or you would like to help with this initiative, please let me know.

brent@brentdarnell.com

 


Things I Learned at the Groundbreaking Women in Construction Conference

May 7, 2015

Celebration Community Cheerful Happiness Success Concept

“Strength lies in differences, not in similarities” ― Stephen R. Covey

 

Yesterday I was on a panel discussion at the ENR Groundbreaking Women in Construction Conference in New York.  It was a great experience for me.  A couple of things that really stuck out:

1.  This was the first time EVER that I was in the minority.  And I mean THE MINORITY!  There were probably five men there out of 300 attendees.  It was a very different feeling.  I never felt out-of-place really, but I did feel outnumbered.  It was a little intimidating.  I finally felt what it must be like for women and minorities at a normal construction conference filled with mostly middle-aged, white men.

2.  I experienced bathroom discrimination for the first time.  I say that with tongue planted firmly in my cheek.  How many times do we men sail in and out of the bathroom at intermission or the seventh inning stress while the line at the women’s bathroom snakes around the corner for miles?  There were so many women and so few men that they actually put a sign over the men’s restroom that said “WOMEN ONLY”.  I had to go down two floors to use the bathroom.  What a shift in perspective.  Women probably get really frustrated by those long lines and think to themselves, “When are the mostly male architects going to wake up and put in twice as many stalls in the women’s bathrooms?”

3.  Women interact differently than men, at least in construction and engineering.  Men will gather and greet with a cool confidence.  The interactions are low-key and low energy and the topic of conversation is mostly about business.  When a large group of women interact, the energy is amazing!  It is palpable.  The room is buzzing!  They are animated and talking and exchanging business cards and discussing lots of different things, including non-business topics.

4.  Women have some of the same issues as men.  There are some difference such as childcare that are quite different for men and women, but what I took away was that the skills for a woman to be successful in the construction industry are exactly the same skills that men need.  It’s just in a different context and should be taught in a slightly different way to address their specific needs.  Leadership, presence, self-awareness, and emotional intelligence skills are at least a part of those success factors.  Individuals will likely just be working on different areas.

I look forward to more of these kinds of conferences and hope that other industry organizations will reach out and invite this group to the table.  They deserve a seat at that table.

Check out my ENR Viewpoint article on diversity:

CLICK HERE