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Autodesk Employees (& Construction Insiders) Share Their Thoughts for Women’s History Month

Earlier in the month, we shared several posts in celebration of Women in Construction Week in addition to Women’s History Month. Blogs included a roundup of insight from 25+ women in construction, an infographic highlighting current diversity challenges in the industry, a tactical article sharing strategies for building inclusivity into company culture, individual spotlights of females in leadership positions, and more. 

To round out our content for Women’s History Month, we turned to employees at Autodesk to gather their thoughts about women in the industry. All of our participants are construction insiders and previously worked for contractors or design firms. Below, read their thoughts on improving diversity and inclusivity in the industry, why they chose to work in construction, and their advice to others building a career. 

And don’t worry – we’ll continue to highlight and share the stories and insight of incredible women and individuals in the industry. Subscribe to our blog to stay on top of the latest content. 

What steps do you think construction companies can take to build equity and advance women in the industry? 

Erica Gasbarro“Companies should invest in internal programs that allow for an inclusive workplace so we can completely remove the stigma that construction is strictly a “man’s profession.” I believe this starts from within the company itself, the leadership, the culture, the message they send to all employees and to their clients, and the actions they take to provide a fair and inclusive place to work. To add to that, it’s imperative that construction companies push to recruit a diverse workforce that includes a range of ages, ethnicities, religions, and worldviews.” – Erica Gasbarro, Manager, ACS Delivery Services

amy marks autodesk“As we know, there’s a shortage of women in leadership positions at many construction companies. To advance more women in the construction industry, we need to show, not tell. We need to start more programs for mentors and sponsors to work with women and get them into leadership roles. Also, we need to look towards our supply chain. If you don’t have a female CEO at your own company, look towards your supply chain to hire a certified woman-owned business. 

It’s also important for companies to put stock in diversity programs that bring in different cultures and backgrounds. We have to be very inclusive. Welcome and champion for women and minority-owned businesses. It’s not just about putting them on a bid list or giving them a job. It’s about allowing them an opportunity to grow and setting an example for others in the industry to follow.” – Amy Marks, Head of Industrialized Construction Strategy & Evangelism

Laura Serena“In my opinion, the number one thing companies can do is be clear that there is no right or wrong path for women in construction. As a woman, I often thought my place was in the office and not out in the field with steel-toed boots and a hard hat, but that just isn’t true. Make sure conversations around different career paths and options are happening and be open to listening to anyone who wants to do something that isn’t considered the “norm.” I also think the phrase “but that’s how we’ve always done it,” needs to be eliminated. Be open to change, even if it sounds daunting.” – Laura Serena, Professional Services Consultant, Bay Area

“A very important thing that firms can do to help cultivate more equity is to continue to focus on creating an environment of trust, support, and safety in both the office and the jobsite. This can comprise of making sure a variety of employee resources, supplies/equipment, and policies are place for people of all kinds – like health counseling, trainings, flexible working arrangements, and properly fitting PPE (for all body types). It can also take the form of looking at a culture code and developing actionable plans that can help acknowledge and recognize the way we want folks to treat each other. When we create a strong foundation for people to feel valued, comfortable, and safe, it’s easier to encourage people to join and stay in this industry.” – Allison Scott, Director, Head of Construction, Thought Leadership & Customer Marketing 

“A big one is making sure people with the same experience and role make the same amount of money, no matter what gender. Other things that could help encourage and support more equity in construction are properly fitting personal protective equipment (sometimes it’s unsafe and way too large for smaller people), gender-neutral language on jobsite postings, and making it a priority to hire women, trans, and gender non-conforming people.” – Jessica Pollack, Manager, Global Delivery Services

Sabina Worthington“The best way to encourage and support women joining the construction industry is through representation. Something that I personally struggled with when I was about to start my career in the construction industry was fear that I would be the only woman on the jobsite and would not be taken seriously. What I found was that the community of women in construction was incredibly profound and supportive. Representation in all positions, whether it’s foreman, superintendent, project engineers, or project managers, is critical to the success and encouragement of women in the industry!” – Sabina Worthington, Professional Services Consultant

What do you love most about the construction industry?

Elena Lelchuk Autodesk“Construction is truly a team sport, and that’s my favorite aspect of this industry. Every project is an opportunity to build new relationships and work together to solve unique project challenges. The success of a project is directly determined by the meticulously synchronized effort of hundreds (or even thousands) of team members. How impressive is that?!” – Elena Lelchuk, Customer Marketing Manager

Neetha Purthran - Linkedin Headshot“I love the complex operational challenge of not only the time, cost, and safety trifecta on building projects, but also finding the best solution (as opposed to just a solution) to the constant problems that pop up on the jobsite. Having some ownership of your piece of the puzzle makes it so much more satisfying to see all your hard work physically take shape. Even better is knowing that everyone around you has been working to reach the same goal and that, in the end, you did it all together.” – Neetha Puthran, Technical Solutions Executive

“I was drawn to construction because of the tangible aspect of the work. It is extremely fulfilling to point to a physical structure and say, “I helped to make that happen.” While working for Clark Construction in Washington, DC, I was part of the team that built the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. I am so proud to be a part of that and can’t wait to take my son there and show him what I worked on.” – Christine Acker, Senior Product Marketing Manager

Cassie Bustos-2“The most rewarding part about working in construction is being able to play a role in turning a vision into reality. I loved the rush of the pursuit phase, the joy of winning, and then being able to watch the customer’s vision come to life. And throughout the entire process, you get the opportunity to build close relationships with a wide range of individuals who bring different talents to the table. Now that I’m on the technology side of construction, I love that I’m able to play a role in providing teams with solutions to help standardize and streamline their workflows so they can worry a little less and focus on building.” – Cassie Bustos, Product Marketing Manager

Raquel Bascones Recio“I love working in construction because it gives me the chance to shape the places we live in. As a former scout, I always try my best to leave this world a little bit better than I found it. It is exciting seeing designs evolve from conception, to a digital model, and finally been built on site. I enjoy the challenge of coordinating stakeholders, designs, and data while being flexible to change and unexpected events.” – Raquel Bascones Recio, BIM Implementation Consultant

What advice would you give to others starting in the industry? 

Lorrin Blair“I would tell other women starting in the industry that just because you might be one of few, it doesn’t mean you don’t belong. Take your seat at the table and find your voice. I’d also say to remember that there is a whole community of women in construction in the world, even if they might not be on your jobsite. So, get involved and create a support system for yourself or other strong women in the industry! There is so much that we can all learn from each other.”- Lorrin Blair, Manager, Technical Solutions, US + EMEA

Laura Talbot“Listen actively, ask lots of questions, spend time in the field, and learn something new every day. Embrace challenges and mistakes as learning opportunities. Understand that you’re about to get a world-class education in problem-solving, and those skills will be useful for the rest of your life. Enjoy your team and celebrate the milestones you’ll accomplish together. Find a mentor, and when the time is right, mentor others.” – Laura Talbot, Manager, Construction Customer Success Programs

Sarah French“Gain experience in several areas and always enjoy what you do.” – Sara French, BIM 360 Implementation Consultant

 

 

 

Neetha Purthran - Linkedin Headshot“My advice would be to get involved in technology early on because I truly believe it’s an area you can immediately make the greatest impact as a young person on a building project (whether you’re on the design or build side). Beyond models and catchy buzzwords, as projects get more complex (tighter schedules and budgets, more moving parts), only technology is going to help you solve these new problems and allow you to present your client with the best solutions. That will set you apart in the long run, in addition to the short term. Find the people that understand and value your contributions in this space, as well as out in the field, while learning how to articulate the business value of what you’re doing.” – Neetha Puthran, Technical Solutions Executive

“Spend time in the field. Take time to learn how crews work (it’s okay to ask questions!). Use the time to understand what helps crews work best, what problems arise or challenges they encounter. For me, learning first hand from the field was invaluable and made me a better estimator, engineer, and manager.” – Christine Acker, Senior Product Marketing Manager

Grace Ellis

Grace Ellis

Content Marketing Manager and Blog Managing Editor, Autodesk Construction Solutions

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