News + Ideas

Commercial Construction & Renovation: Empowering Women Leaders In Project Management


Kristina Leighty, Senior Director

Sourced from Commercial Construction & Renovation

Amid the recent shortages of qualified candidates in the AEC industry, there is an urgent need for skilled members of the workforce, and in an industry notoriously skewing male, the dynamics are shifting, particularly in the area of project management.

“Whether you go to college or learn a trade, more and more women are entering the construction industry as project managers, superintendents, foremen (forewomen), managers, and executives,” says Kristina Leighty, Senior Director, MGAC. “Women already fill a multitude of roles in design and construction, and I believe that this industry will only see more and more women entering it.”

While a recent report from the Project Management Institute states that women are slightly behind men across the sector, those gaps are closing.  Many women who become project managers do not begin their careers in the field, but in adjacent fields such as interior design or engineering. It is only through either education, or work experience do they become aware that this career is an option.

This exposure to other disciplines provides the ability to offer a different perspective. Unlike their male counterparts, many of whom have been in the same industry for years, the outside experience offers the women managers a new way to build relationships and know what the right questions are and how to ask them.

In previous decades, women have found that to excel in male-dominated fields, they have to mimic the behaviors of their male counterparts. However, women today are at an advantage in that they are able to be themselves. They can develop their own leadership styles, while still maintaining the interpersonal and relationship management skills that are necessary to be able to interact with all the various team members.

“Regardless of your industry or field of study, if you are a person that loves to work with a team, are a good leader, a good listener and communicator, organized, dependable, trustworthy, and dedicated to the successful delivery of a project you have all the ingredients to become a project manager,” Leighty says. “There are things you will need to know about construction, contracts, budgets, schedules, design deliverables, the client requirements and scope of work, but these skills are also learned while doing the job.”

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