Swinerton Women Employees at Colorado Construction jobsite celebrating Women in Construction

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.

Lisa Larance, Preconstruction Manager 

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

When I tell people that I work in construction, people generally picture a craftsperson putting work in place, so they want to understand more. I talk about my role as a preconstruction manager and estimator, explaining how my role fits into the overall construction industry. There are so many facets to construction, so I like to share what it’s like in the planning process, before the project ever takes shape on site.

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

What I like best about working in the construction industry is variety—working with many different types of people from clients to the people who are in the field putting work in place. The types of projects are also vary from renovations of existing space to projects that won’t break ground for a year or more. While the parts of a project are very similar, each one is dynamic with its own design and intended use.

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

Diversity on a construction site, and in this industry overall, is the solution to what this industry needs most—diversity of people and perspectives. Women’s and men’s brains are built to complement each other, which is why a diverse team generates the best outcome. When we explore all options together, the right option rises to the top. Generally, the best solution is that which benefits the entire team the most.

Why did you choose Swinerton?

I chose Swinerton for several reasons. One is the opportunity to participate in many project types and sizes. But the most important to me is the sense of connection that I felt when I first came in the door. Having experienced other organizations throughout my career, Swinerton operates differently and has a great company culture. We are as focused on the success of an individual as we are on company success. I believe that we exemplify the saying “The sum of the parts is greater than the whole.”

What do you enjoy about your job?

I enjoy the part of my job where I am brainstorming project ideas and solutions with the team. Sometimes that team is made up of the owner and design team where we are tackling the program and scope of the project very early. Sometimes that team is made up of our operations team and our trade partners, really getting into the details of how something will be constructed. In either scenario, the most satisfying part is coming together and developing high-quality solutions for our clients and projects. I also enjoy being a leading and founding member of our Women’s Business Resource Group.

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

If I had one piece of advice for any woman interested in a career in construction, it would be: go for it! Bring your passion, your willingness to learn and grow, and your whole self to this industry. There are endless opportunities to contribute as our industry touches more than just the built environment. We rely upon our teams in construction, IT, marketing, accounting, and craft professionals, just to name a few. If you’re interested, reach out to any one of our employee-owners. We’d love to talk with you!

Female Construction Worker on jobsite in Colorado Swinerton

Jessa Brinker, Senior Project Engineer

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

Being a woman in the construction industry always brings about different responses when you tell others what you do. If the person asking is also in the industry, they’ll often ask questions and are interested. “What do you do? What jobsite are you on? How do you like it? Tell me more!” I often find that when you come across people outside of the industry, you may get a short answer, with less interest or understanding that it is becoming more and more common to be in the construction industry as a female.

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

One of my favorite things about being in the construction industry is that it is ever-changing. One day you could be drilling piers, the next day watching steel being set, and in another blink of the eye you’re wrapping up the job. In a year’s time you get to be involved in so many different pieces of the puzzle, and solve so many problems. There’s never two days that are alike, which truly makes the industry unique, and is what keeps me loving it every day. Even if you have a bad day, you can show up the next knowing that where you’re at and what you’re doing is going to change in a flash, as will the building in front of you.

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

When you have a diverse construction job team—whether that is a difference in your background, where you grew up, what experience you have—you are able to solve problems better, faster, and oftentimes in a more cost-effective way. A diverse group comes with different ways of thinking and approaching a problem, which in turn comes with multiple different ways to slice the pie and achieve a solution that one person alone may not have been able to come up with.

Why did you choose Swinerton?

Swinerton felt like home from the first day. I started with Swinerton as an intern and everyone from then all the way to now has been welcoming and truly cares about you. Any time I’ve felt like there was an issue on the jobsite, I needed someone to talk to, or just needed help with a situation, people jumped right in and acknowledged my request and were there for me to lean on.

What do you enjoy about your job?

Working at Swinerton, I’ve been able to see multiple sides of the industry and the jobsite, from spending time in estimating, to kicking off a job, to now wrapping one up. I feel like I’ve been exposed to many sides of the industry in just the few years I have been with Swinerton. It’s truly a unique experience to see and understand what all goes into the projects that you’re working on and being able to share that knowledge with others.

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

My advice to any women looking to enter the industry is to just do it! Don’t let the stigma of being in construction scare you off or deter you. It’s a decision that was tough for me to make when initially looking to get into the industry, but I’ve never second guessed that decision or looked back on it. If it’s the right fit for you, you’ll know it!

Charlotte Lundin, Assistant Project Manager

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

Most of the time people don’t under what construction management is, so they assume initially that I am the one out in the field putting work into place, which confuses them even more being a woman. I usually try to explain my role at a high level, and once in a while I will still receive comments about being a female in a male-dominated industry. Mostly people think it’s pretty cool that I am in construction, and those that work in construction and understand it have an even higher level of respect for me.

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

The construction industry is full of challenges, but it’s also full of a ton of opportunities. What many don’t understand is the construction industry is compiled of so many different roles and types of people like marketing, administration, craft labor, business development, networking, preconstruction, scheduling, talent, etc. As you grow as a person and within your career, you can really figure out what you want to do and how you want to do it.

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

Problem solving occurs every day on the jobsite and most of the time there are multiple ways to achieve a solution. The key is having people challenge one another on ideas through their various experiences or thought processes in order to land on the most efficient solution to the problem. If everyone is like-minded, then a lot of great solutions can be overlooked and you may end up with something that isn’t as beneficial, especially as it relates to schedule, cost, or quality.

Why did you choose Swinerton?

Swinerton is a family. The culture is full of a strong support system centered around ensuring the employees are happy, healthy, and thriving. This largely has to do with being employee-owned, keeping the standard high when it comes to hiring, and promoting from within whenever possible. Swinerton’s support of me as an individual, including both my career as well as my personal life, is what drives me to continue to choose Swinerton.

What do you enjoy about your job?

The process of building and construction is extremely unique and you get to intimately understand the buildings you build more than the majority of the population. It’s very satisfying to understand the structures we interact with on a daily basis, but even more so to drive by buildings that you started on when it was simply a dirt lot or a hole in the ground.

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

Construction is definitely a challenging career, but if you love it then it will reward you. Don’t be afraid to be a part of the construction industry because you are a woman. With the right group and right people around you, you will find that being a woman is in fact a huge strength and benefit within this industry.

Adelicia Colmenero, Project Manager

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

Most people think it is really cool when they hear that I work in construction. I think they are more impressed when they see or hear about the projects that I work on. My family thinks it’s awesome. I come from a family who works in the trades, and so it has allowed me to make a special connection with them that I might not have if I wasn’t in construction. I am able to talk shop with them, and they are more open to telling me about the projects that they worked on. For example, my grandpa did concrete worked on Republic Plaza, which is one of the tallest buildings in Colorado. I just got off of the 11th tallest building in Colorado, so, he still has a leg up on me! 😊

When I tell the younger generation that I work in construction, I think their career options get wider, and that they gain another role model or connection to someone who is in a traditionally male dominated industry.

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

What I love most about being in the construction industry is the collaboration that occurs across people and disciplines. We have the opportunity to meet so many people, and work together to constantly solve challenges, and build out amazing spaces for people in our community.

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

I think the more diversity you have on a team, you open up a window to have more voices with different options for solutions. I truly think that there are better outcomes when you have diversity on a project team.

Why did you choose Swinerton?

I chose Swinerton because of the people, and the culture that Swinerton has. It is not easy to describe Swinerton’s unique culture, however, as a national company, we are innovative, forward-thinking, truly invested in our people, and we treat each other like family.

What do you enjoy about your job?

I love the people that I get to work with. I love the collaboration, whether it’s within the various departments within our offices or the architects, consultants and trade partners that we work with on each project. I love building relationships with our clients, and understanding the end-users needs. Working within our healthcare market, it is incredibly rewarding to know that the work that we do is helping improve or even save lives. I am constantly learning, and being challenged. I love being able to work through challenges, and helping build new spaces that our community will enjoy.

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

Construction is a demanding, but extremely rewarding career path. I am always supportive if women who are considering a career in construction. I first always open myself up as a resource for them to reach out to at any time, and usually invite them for a jobsite tour, especially if they are in high school or college and are just looking at construction as a potential career.