Women in Construction Week Helps Women Break Glass Ceilings, Build Careers

Glass Magazine
March 12, 2018

The National Association of Women in Construction marked Women in Construction Week, held March 4-10. The more than 120 chapters of NAWIC use the week to raise awareness among women regarding employment opportunities in the industry, while also giving back to their local communities.  

This year, chapters used a range of advertising spaces to amplify their message. “I was very impressed with the chapters who promoted the week by purchasing billboard space and creating a Facebook profile picture frame for all members to use,” says Heather Berlinski, chair, Women in Construction Week. “These truly promote NAWIC and WIC Week on a larger platform, from a traffic visibility option to social media.” Chapters also contributed to their communities by offering classes and partnering with Habitat for Humanity, says Berlinski.

The initiative promotes the idea that women will support other women in the industry, says Berlinski, which is needed as barriers remain for women entering construction. She points to a lack of STEM education for girls and young women as one major hurdle.

Barbara Kotsos, director of the Los Angeles Chapter of NAWIC and director of marketing for Giroux Glass, is leading her chapter to help clear that hurdle. The Los Angeles group offers sponsorships to high school seniors interested in STEM and planning to attend university. The chapter also encourages members to provide internships, says Kotsos, and participates in Block Kids Building Competition, a creative engineering competition for younger students.

While STEM education and training opportunities are necessary, both Berlinski and Kotsos agree that representation is paramount in order to combat the pervasive misperception that construction is an all-male industry. Kotsos adds that it's important for young female students to connect with women in the industry, and especially to see them on the job. “Seeing it is believing it: having young girls tour project sites, and seeing women actually at work, would leave an impression for life,” she says. “Role models everywhere need to look like the students themselves, so seeing ethnic diversity and equal numbers of women as men will influence girls into being pulled into these jobs.”