DPR Builders Share Their Stories about Being Women in the Construction Industry

In honor of Women in Construction Week, March 7-13, and International Women’s Day on March 8, DPR Construction interviewed women working on projects to get their perspective on what it’s like to work in the construction industry today, the challenges and opportunities they have faced in their career, and what they love most about being a builder.

Allison Anderson, Project Manager, Greenville, SC, has construction expertise across sectors, but her most recent project has been in the healthcare core market. After spending her early career trying to prove her place as a woman in the construction industry, she realized success comes down to having respect for everyone on the team.

“When you boil it all down, it really does come down to respect for the individual.”

Amanda Thomas, Project Manager, Dallas-Fort Worth, is currently the sole project manager on a vertical expansion project for a healthcare customer. Thomas sees the shift to a more diverse workforce, and the impact that diversity can bring to the team.

“People in construction are starting to see the positive value that having a diverse team on a jobsite has. Bringing those people together can really be powerful and can be a key attribute to the success of a project.”

Ashley Johnson, Project Manager, Atlanta, is currently working on a healthcare project. Being a builder in this sector is meaningful to her because of the impacts healthcare services provide to people and their communities.

“Construction can be a very demanding yet rewarding career. It has a level of technical focus, it requires intent, collaboration and coordination. Sometimes a lot can be on the line, and sometimes what’s on the line is someone’s life.”

Becky Chahal, Project Manager, San Francisco Bay Area, finds the most rewarding projects are those in the life sciences or healthcare core markets that provide integral health services to their communities. She has learned to celebrate the contributions she can bring to her team as a woman in the industry.

“I’ve really started to celebrate the differences [of being a woman in construction]. I do bring different values and different contributions to the jobsite every day.

Dichelle Burrus, Project Executive, Houston, brings 15 years of experience, working primarily in the healthcare and advanced technology sectors, and is currently leading the construction of a biomanufacturing project in College Station, TX. She attributes her success to having a great team environment with her colleagues.

“Being a great teammate is crucial to a construction project because one single person can’t build everything out here on their own.”

Emily Blair, Project Manager, Seattle, is working on a tenant improvement for a life sciences manufacturing suite. With more than 14 years in the construction industry, she is excited to see the number of women present on job sites, and the opportunities for growth that are available to them.

“It’s becoming more normal and commonplace to see women on job sites and in operational roles. It’s great that at DPR you see a ton of women in leadership positions.”

Kimberly Brown, Project Manager, Baltimore, has developed project expertise across many market sectors in her 15 years of experience, but she is currently working on a healthcare project, which like many others, makes her feel like she is part of something that is ultimately going to help others.

“It feels really good to give back, and to also be a part of something that the community needs.”

Lael Blum, Project Leader, Amsterdam, works on mission critical projects across Europe. Being a builder on a collaborative team is what excites her the most about her career in construction.

“There’s something incredible about the dynamic that’s developed on a project team when you’re working together to deliver something incredible for your client. That energy, drive and passion that comes together to support each other is really an incredible thing to be a part of.”

Lucy Villanueva, Project Executive, San Diego, is currently working on the construction of a medical center in San Marcos. She is a 25-year veteran of the construction industry, and like others, is excited to see that opportunities for women in construction have grown dramatically.

“When I first started my career… I was the only woman in the room. Now we’re in the room with other women who are amazing partners and leaders in the industry.”

Shashi Sriram, Preconstruction Manager, Phoenix, has worked on a number of projects across core markets in the Phoenix area. She finds pride in her work through her children and is happy to see more girls and women choosing construction as a career.

“Construction as an industry has become more flexible and inclusive. We’re adapting to include more women in construction and for them to also be successful in our field.”

DPR is proud to share stories of so many talented women who build and who help change the landscape of our communities.

“It feels good to be a part of something that you can look back on, and drive by, and point to, and be proud of, and can serve your community… It just feels good,” Johnson noted. “Construction is good for the soul.”