"I've had opportunities where I've had to manage males, and you can sense them being uncomfortable with my authority or sense of knowledge," she explains. "But my goal stays the same, and that is to train them, share that knowledge and help them be able to function in their position and overall on their team."
Amanda Gray is a national architectural and commercial account manager for The Dow Chemical Company. She says that as an executive in construction, it's not uncommon for male colleagues to doubt her credibility.
She recalls a time when she was leading a meeting, the only woman in a group of 14 people at a job site. Gray started talking about the technical details for an upcoming project when a male consultant stopped her and asked, "Ma'am do you even know what the cut section of a building is?"
Gray says she started laughing, because he was challenging her knowledge of one of the most basic aspects of construction. "Everyone around us started laughing as well," she says. "The good thing is, you know, I had built credibility with these people in the past and someone stepped in and said, 'I can't believe you would ask her that question.'"
Though these attitudes about women in construction persist in some corners, Gray, Baptiste and Caroll all say that overall, the industry is becoming more diverse and more welcoming to women. In fact, Caroll says that in her experience in the field, she's seen a 2:1 male-to-female ratio on some of the construction sites where she's worked — a significant jump from previous years.
Baptiste says that for women who are interested in entering the field today, there are many organizations that can offer them assistance and mentorship. She notes the support she's received from the national organization Professional Women in Construction. She says she's been part of the group for several years, and it's been an important source of industry contacts and potential clients.
"There are a lot of organizations like Professional Women in Construction that provide mentorship, networking and opportunities for growth and business development to women in the industry," she says. She advises anyone interested in construction to find a local support group to join. "[These organizations] are not only for you if you're an owner, but even if you're just an intern in college, in high school or just starting out in the industry."
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