Observed the first week of March each year, Women in Construction (WIC Week) is a national opportunity to highlight women and their roles in the construction industry. Additionally, WIC Week is an opportunity to raise awareness for the multitude of opportunities available for women interested in the construction industry.
In honor of WIC Week, we reached out to three local women to learn a bit more about their experience in the Birmingham construction industry.
KwaNadjhia Hamilton – Project Engineer
First, we spoke with KwaNadjhia Hamilton, a project engineer at Doster Construction. In 2019, KwaNadjhia graduated from Alabama A&M with a degree in Civil Engineering before landing at Doster Construction. Now, she manages multi-family projects for the company.
How did you become interested in the construction industry?
“Growing up, I always loved building things, and construction was always something that caught my eye. While studying Civil Engineering at Alabama A&M in Huntsville, I gravitated towards construction. Then, I was introduced to Doster Construction at a career fair while in college. I knew that Doster Construction would be the right fit for me.”
In what ways has Doster Construction helped your professional career?
“Doster Construction provides a ton of training, and not just for my specific field. I’m a project engineer, but I’ve taken courses on workplace safety, software training and more. There are a lot of training opportunities, so I’ve been able to add a lot of great credentials to my resume.”
In your experience, what have you observed about workplace culture at Doster Construction?
“I’ve been at Doster Construction for a little over a year, and it’s a very fun work environment. You’ll come in on Friday’s and see coworkers who have brought their dogs or children to work. Plus, we have basketball contests, chili cook-offs and other fun team-building activities. Construction can be a high-stress industry, so Doster Construction makes sure that the environment is as warm and inviting as possible.”
What are some of the challenges of working in a male-dominated industry?
“I think the biggest challenge has been maintaining my femininity while working around men all the time. In general, I’ve found that women tend to be more organized, so I’m able to bring my feminine touch to the workplace in ways like organization. As an African-American female, I’m a double minority so it’s been a challenge to really find my place in the industry. Fortunately, Doster Construction is perfect. I haven’t faced any discrimination and I really feel like my work makes a difference.”
What advice would you give to other young women considering a career in the construction industry?
“This applies to any field, but make sure that you have a love for construction. Without that passion, it’ll be difficult to justify the sacrifices and energy. But if you love the work, don’t be deterred—you are just as applicable as men in the field.”
Rachael Meigs – Manager of Client Services
Next, we spoke with Rachael Meigs. Rachael has worked in several roles during her three years at Doster Construction: Estimator, Senior Estimator and now, Manager of Client Services.
How did you become interested in construction?
“My grandfather brought me along on a mission trip to Guatemala years ago. While there, we did a lot of construction work on the missionary home. I was pulling wires in the house and really fell in love with the building process. When we came back, my dad and I started participating in Habitat for Humanity, which really reinforced my love for building.”
What have you loved about your time at Doster Construction?
“I hired on at Doster Construction about three years ago as an Estimator, and since then I’ve moved up the ranks to my current role as a manager of client services. The possibilities at Doster Construction are endless—they provide me with responsibility, trust and great mentors to help guide me to be the best employee I can be.”
How would you define the culture at Doster Construction?
“To me, our core values really define the workplace culture: Drive, Operation Excellence, Safety, Teamwork, Ethics and Relationships.
One part sticks out the most is our relationships. Not only are we nurturing relationships with clients, but internally as well. I would want to hang out with my coworkers over the weekend.”
What challenges have you faced as a woman in construction?
“When it comes to construction, women are often viewed as less knowledgeable than their male counterparts. For a lot of women in construction, there’s a feeling that you need to constantly prove yourself—going one step further to show that you’re just as valuable and just as smart.
But these stereotypes are really being broken in the construction industry. Women are encouraged and developed as equal members of the team in the industry. There is still room for improvement, but those stereotypes are being broken.”
What advice do you have for young women interested in your field?
“My advice? Go for it. If you love construction, don’t let anything stop you. The sky is the limit. We are definitely surrounded by a community of general contractors who support women in the construction industry, so don’t let anything stop you from chasing your dreams.”
Allison Roberts – Project Manager
Finally, we interviewed Allison Roberts, a Project Manager for Doster Construction. Allison has been at the company for a little over five years, and has steadily climbed up the ladder to her current role.
What drew you to the construction industry?
“I’ve always been interested in math and engineering. I studied Civil Engineering and Construction Management at the University of Alabama, but gravitated towards construction. I really enjoy the hands-on aspect of the construction field—I love seeing my work expressed in tangible ways.”
In what ways has Doster Construction helped further your professional growth?
“I started off in Project Engineering and advanced to my current role as project manager. Doster Construction has given me a lot of experience in client development, cost management, schedule analysis, risk management and much more through their training programs. Over the years, I’ve been given more responsibility, which has really provided me with a lot of valuable experience.”
Can you describe the culture at Doster Construction?
“I’ve been at Doster Construction for a little over five years, and it’s a very friend- and family-oriented business. We all look out for one another. If you have a problem, you can go into anyone’s office and they’ll welcome you with open arms. It’s a very supportive environment.”
What are some of the challenges of being a woman in the construction industry?
“There is the overall stigma of overcoming the challenge of being a woman in a male-dominated industry. But the support of my coworkers has been excellent. I’m constantly encouraged and not treated any differently. There’s no reason I can’t fulfill my duties just because I’m a woman.”
What advice would you offer women who are seeking a career in construction?
“I would say don’t let societal norms hold you back. If construction is your passion, you should definitely pursue it. For me, construction is a very fulfilling career.”
Encouraging Women in Construction
Women in Construction Week is an excellent time to highlight the growing number of opportunities for women in the construction industry. Passionate individuals like KwaNadjhia, Rachael and Allison are just a few of the incredible women who chose construction as their career path.
Originally featured in Bham Now