Empowering Women in Construction

Women only make up about 11% of the construction industry workforce, and only 1 for every 100 employees in the field. At Swinerton, women make up 15.2% of our total workforce and 3.3% of craft employees, and growing. While the construction industry has a ways to go in attracting and retaining diverse talent, progress is being made. Since 2012, the number of women in construction has steadily increased by 54.7%.

Swinerton is proud of its employee-owners who are fostering a culturally inclusive environment where all feel safe, respected, and able to thrive. With a strong support system and room for career growth, Swinerton is proud to not only have women in leadership roles all across the nation, but also to provide opportunities for women to shake up our business and help the industry make progress through our Women’s Business Resource Group (WBRG) and other opportunities for impact.

For Women in Construction Week 2022, we are highlighting women who are making strides—from the field to the office to the community at large—leading, mentoring, encouraging, educating, and empowering the next generation of women in construction.

Robyn Schoch, Project Executive

What do people say when you tell them you work in construction?

People that know me aren’t surprised one bit that I work in construction. I’m all about breaking down barriers and doing what others think is impossible. Most people think it’s cool and want to know more.

What do you like best about being in the construction industry?

I love the tangible legacy of construction, the fact that you can see your hard work on display for years to come. I also love that it takes a team to execute a project, which means you build lifelong relationships while doing what you love.

How does more diversity on a construction jobsite help teams solve problems better?

Diversity is always a good thing. It enhances creativity and gives us perspective, which ultimately drives innovation and the ability to problem solve quickly.

Why did you choose Swinerton?

I chose Swinerton because it’s the best. Full stop. We truly value our people and what they bring to the table and we never stop striving to be better than we were yesterday.

What do you enjoy about your job?

My favorite part has always been and will always be the people. As I grow in my career, my job becomes les about constructing buildings and more about building the people that construct the buildings. That’s honestly the best part. Seeing your team, which becomes your family, grow and work together to accomplish something great is the best reward I could ever ask for.

What is your advice to women looking to start a career in construction?

Go for it and give it your all. Don’t ever let anyone tell you what you can and can’t do—you be the judge of that. Be open minded and ready to put the work in. And always remember that perspective is everything.

Sarah Hargrave-Thomas, Assistant Superintendent 

What do people say when you tell them you work in construction?

The typical response when I say I work in construction is, “that’s really cool” or “that’s badass.”  There’s always a follow up question, “how did you get into construction?”  Then, I explain my surprising path that led to me finding a career I am passionate about.

What do you like best about being in the construction industry?

The construction industry is a really exciting industry to be a part of.  It is fantastic to build a project that you can be proud of for years to come, but I also enjoy and admire other projects I see in my city!  When I drive through downtown Atlanta and see jobsite after jobsite, with tower cranes going up, it’s very exciting!  It’s obviously more exciting when Swinerton’s name is on the fence wrap.  However, you feel like you’re a part of a community, and I really enjoy being a part of it.

How does more diversity on a construction jobsite help teams solve problems better?

There is so much to learn from the individuals you work with.  Having a diverse environment and levels of experience, I think, allows teams to effectively collaborate and learn from each other.

Why did you choose Swinerton?

Similar to the projects I like to build, I was excited to join Atlanta’s growing division, and to be part of its growth from the ground up.

What do you enjoy about your job?

I enjoy the never-ending opportunities to learn and develop myself professionally.  I also enjoy building relationships with people I get to work with like subcontractors, owners, architects, and engineers. The obstacles you face together are what add to your experience and make your journey memorable.

What is your advice to women looking start a career in construction?

My advice will always be “take what you want, leave what you don’t.”  I’m not sure this is specific to construction, it’s kind of just life in general. But you will meet many individuals in your career and you get choose what shapes you and your career goals.  You will learn from others, and if there are any qualities you don’t care to pick up, that’s okay. I think that is important to remember that you do not have to fit into a mold, you offer something unique that you bring to the table.

Roya Vermillion, Senior Project Manager

What do people say when you tell them you work in construction?

“It is great to see more women in construction. What do you exactly do?”

What do you like best about being in the construction industry?

Being able to walk away at the end of the day and see your progress in front of you instead of just a pile of paper being moved around makes this job very rewarding.

How does more diversity on a construction jobsite help teams solve problems better?

Everyone brings different ideas to the table. Being able to put different people together and see ideas turn into solutions is a great thing to watch.

Why did you choose Swinerton?

I chose Swinerton because of its opportunities for growth, and I continue to choose Swinerton because of the people I work with.

What do you enjoy about your job?

I most enjoy mentoring up and coming talent to help them reach their full potential, and solving challenges. I love that every day isn’t the same.

What is your advice to women looking start a career in construction?

Construction isn’t a male dominating career anymore; women are just as good or even better! 😊 I had a client say “my top two favorite project managers were women; why don’t we have more of them in construction?”