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Building Up Interest For Women in Construction

Date: June 9, 2000
By: Chris Curran
Phone: (513) 556-1806
Photo by: Lisa Ventre
Archive: Campus News

image of women grads

The construction management program at the UC College of Applied Science is celebrating its largest class of female graduates ever. Ben Uwakweh, department head, said 16 percent of this year's graduating class is female.

Typically, there are only one or two female graduates. "They formed a good network," said Uwakweh, "and their co-op experience really helped. They believe in themselves now, and all made it through with flying colors."

This was such a special class of young women, we'd like you to meet each and every one of them. They have scaled the heights of Cincinnati's new Paul Brown Stadium. They worked to build the Newport Aquarium. One even survived getting trapped into more than two feet of sticky, slimy Georgia muck. Enjoy their stories, and congratulations on building such a bright future.

Name: Christa Peet, McAuley High School

How I became interested in Construction as a Career:
I have always been interested and exposed to the construction and design of buildings and houses. When I heard of the Construction Management Major I knew that was the field I wanted to be in.

Where I am Going after Graduation:
I am staying here in Cincinnati and working as a Project Engineer for Huber, Hunt, and Nichols beginning June 19, 2000. I will be located on a P&G construction sites.

Thoughts on my experience in the CM program:
I would not change the last five years for anything. I was able to gain experience and learn my field of interest while haveing so much fun at the same time.

Thoughts on what it means to be a woman in construction:
I don't feel any different being a woman in construction. I have been treated the same as everyone else in my program. I feel that it is a major accomplishment for every one of my classmates graduating this year. We have all worked hard and deserve what is to come to us.

Name: Stephanie Ann White, Anderson High School

How I became interested in Construction as a Career:
I became interested because my father works for a construction firm. He used to bring his work home with him, and take me to his office when I was little.

Where I am Going after Graduation:
Orlando, Florida for Centex Rooney Construction Company

Thoughts on my experience in the CM program:
The first year in the program was rough, trying to fit in with all the guys. As years progressed, we became one of the guys.

Name: Faye Nesbitt, Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, Dayton, Ohio

How I became interested in Construction as a Career:
I was working two jobs after high school, one part-time and the other full-time. I wanted a job making the amount of money that I was making combined on one job, so a friend told me about the apprenticeship program in Dayton. I applied and the next week I was sent out on a job and the rest is history. After working in the field for ten years as a license carpenter, I wanted more (security, money and knowledge), so a week after getting laid-off in 1993, I enrolled in Sinclair Community College. I attended there for one year and two quarters before transferring to College of Applied Science.

My mentor, Sue Messersmith, a professor at Sinclair College, asked me two questions about my further they were: "Do you want a hard degree (four or five years of college where you can make $30,000 and up) or "Do you want a soft degree (an associates degree where you will make approx. $23,000 a year). I knew that I wanted to make more than what I was making as a carpenter $18/hr. So I choose the hard degree and she gave me only two options OSU or UC. I choose UC and the rest is history.

Where I am Going after Graduation:
I will be moving to Knoxville, TN to work for Clark Construction Group out of Bethesda, MD.

Thoughts on my experience in the CM program:
I think that this program is very challenging and marketable. In other words, after going through this program we ( the students) are very marketable in the industry. What made this program a great experience for me was the co-op program. Alternating quarters from school ten weeks and then working for ten weeks was very vital for me. Also, when you have positive, inspiring people supporting you while in this program was good.

I would like to name those that help me make it through: God, Dr. Ben Uwakweh, Construction Science Departement Head, Nancy Hunter (Asst. Librarian), Rosemary Young (Librarian) and Susan Hight (Asst. Librarian).

Thoughts on what it means to be a woman in construction:
Being a woman in constuction means to me is the same as what it means to a man in construction. Many women have the abilities to be in such a program because we take so much pride in our work in a nontraditional environment. By being a woman in construction is just a stepping stone for me to reaching my destiny in life. I will use my experience and means of being a woman in contruction to help other women to pursue such a career.

Name: Teresa Bird, Turpin High School (Anderson Township)

How I became interested in Construction as a Career:
I became interested in construction because I was exposed to it all of my life. My father is one of the first graduates of the CM program at OCAS and I grew up watching him, visiting sites with him, and going to the office with him. Not many professions give a person such a tangible sense of accomplishment. I realized a few years ago what my Dad meant when we would drive around the tri--state and he would say, "I built that bridge." (He put himself through school building bridges.) It is really a special feeling to see things you have had a part in building. Building things runs in the family. My grandfather was a plasterer and some of my uncles work in construction, but I'm the only girl in the family that went that route.

Where I am Going after Graduation:
I think I am going to end up in Dallas, Texas. I know I am going to try to get a master's in archaeology someday soon.

Thoughts on my experience in the CM program:
Co-op was by far the most valuable experience in the CM program. It lets you know if this is what you really want to do and lets you find out before you put in four or five years. Right when you get tired of school and can't take anymore, you go to co-op, and right when you are burnt out on work, you go back to school and see what everyone else did during co-op. The CM program at OCAS is a great program and the people who make it through really become a tight group. Also, the CM professors are great. My father had three of the same professors that I had! They are very helpful and great to work with.

Thoughts on what it means to be a woman in construction:

Being a woman in construction is actually pretty neat because it surprises people. You can use being a female to your advantage to charm people into doing things, but once you yell at them, you are a "bitch". As a woman on site, if you mess up, everyone will notice and give you grief for it. We have to give 110% to be the same as a male in this job. It goes both ways, some people treat you with respect and try not to cuss in front of you, and others will intentionally disobey you and tell you how horrible you are and everything you are doing wrong.

Some people take advantage of you and try to give you all of the secretarial duties on a site. Some people act like you couldn't possibly have thought of any ideas by yourself. No matter how invisible gender becomes on a site, there are still sometimes when I walk into a room and it suddenly becomes quiet. One other problem is that if you have to work out of town on a per diem job, there aren't usually a lot of women to share a room at a hotel with, so you end up paying more for your room. Girls don't get sent to a lot of out of town jobs while they are co-ops because companies don't know how to handle the boarding situation.

The best times are when gender is invisible, and everyone knows that you are there to do a job and you are qualified to do it. You can't let subs or anyone else take advantage of you. Guys also ask your advice and share a lot of their secrets with you -- it's like you are a walking confessional sometimes. Another thing about being a woman in construction is that sometimes you get a port-o-let only for women and you have it to yourself -- that's great!

Name: Sarah Parks, Highlands High School (KY)

How I became interested in Construction as a Career:

I became interested in construction as a child - always building things and taking things apart. I took a "shop" class in high school and loved the power tools and being able to create things from scratch.

Where I am Going after Graduation:
After graduation, I will be working for Federated Department Stores in the Cincinnati office. I plan to attend graduate school within five years.

Thoughts on my experience in the CM program:
The UC Construction Management program has been a great tool in helping me to decide which direction to route my future. The co-op program is probably the best part of the program. Students are able to learn if construction is right for them before they spend five years in school and a lot of money. I have developed into a career-minded, opinionated young woman because of my experiences at UC. I would like to see more young women in the program.

It is very rewarding to be a woman in construction. We are slowly breaking the mind-set that construction is not for women. I feel as if I am helping to make the path easier for future women graduates.

Name:: Karen Hellyer, Milford

How I became interested in Construction as a Career:
As well-known as the UC Construction Science Department has become, graduates are almost guarenteed job placement in a growing field with diverse work environments. We can choose to work indoors or outdoors, or both.

Where I am Going after Graduation:
Bethesda, Maryland for Clark Construction

Thoughts on my experience in the CM program:
Co-oping gives real experience that clears the confusion from the classroom. It helps to define your career goals.

Thoughts on what it means to be a woman in construction:
Construction Management has opened the doors to more career opportunities for women. It has been tough, but it takes dedicated women to lay the foundation and build the path for the women of the future. I like to think in 10 to 15 years it will no longer be a novelty that only nine women are graduating in construction science. I belive all nine of us are sincerely indebted to the teachers and parents who have both encouraged and believed in us through this long journey in a male-dominated field.

Name: Jamie Pursley. Franklin (OH) High School

How I became interested in Construction as a Career:
I came to OCAS by chance. I applied to the Engineering College and was denied. OCAS was another opportunity and so I applied to the Architectural Engineering Technology program. I was accepted, and then in my sophomore year, I decided to double major in Construction Management. I feel that I'll be more prepared to face the challenges within construction by experiencing both sides of the industry.

Where I am Going after Graduation:
Continuing my education... I'm finishing my Architectural Engineering Degree (AET) within the next year. I'm currently pursuing job opportunities, but I'm not employed yet.

Thoughts on my experience in the CM program:
School is very challenging and demanding. When I first entered the program, I didn't know what I was getting myself into. I remember being the only female in my speech class, and I was so intimated to get in front of the class to give my speeches. But now, I don't differeniate myself from any of the guys. I have made many friends, both male and female, and I'll miss them a lot.

Thoughts on what it means to be a woman in construction:
Construction is a unique field of study. Being a female in construction is even more unique, but as the years progress, I am seeing more and more females in construction. I realize that this field is still a male-dominated field, but it is slowly changing. If there is one issue that I would like everyone to understand, it is to give women a chance. Women can perform just as well as any man. We all need to be a little more open-minded. There's always something that we all can learn from someone else regardless of the person's gender. I know that I'll struggle in my future...everyone will, but I also know that I can succeed if I put my mind to it.

Name: Rachel Bartels, Bishop Brossart High School (KY)

How I became interested in Construction as a Career:
I became interested in construction in high school when I began working for a home designer. I started out on main campus to pursue interior design. I was not able to get into the program so I took an alternate route into the construction field. I began the Construction Science program in the fall quarter of 1995.

Where I am Going after Graduation:
After graduation I am going to work with Huber Hunt and Nichols in Dallas,Texas. I will have the title of project engineer.

Thoughts on my experience in the CM program:
My experience in the construction management program has been memorable, even though it has been difficult at times. The difficulty may come from understanding the different material but the faculity and the staff is there to help with an problems or questions. The key to enjoying the CM program is to get involved.

Thoughts on what it means to be a woman in construction:
To be a woman in construction is exciting and very rewarding. More people think it is great to venture into a field that is male dominated. I enjoy construction and all the different things that are involved with construction. The people listen to you ideas and they wioll listen when you give them directions. More often that not I and looked up to in construction for have the strenght the survive in this field.


 
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