Thank you for celebrating Women In Construction Week (WIC) 2021 with us! Before we wrap up the week, we want to introduce you to Kathryn Whitaker! Kathryn is an Assistant Project Manager at Astra, and she has been a part of the Astra team for 4 years! She puts 100 percent into everything she does, and she has been instrumental in ensuring that no detail is left unattended.
Kathryn first entered the industry while pursuing her second bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering. While going back to school, she reconnected with a friend who was working at Astra. Kathryn was put into contact with her now boss, and the rest was history!
Kathryn balances both on-site and office work and is usually at the job site about twice a week.
“Being on site helps to grasp what is being discussed and decided when you are able to see the project,” said Kathryn. “Getting out and speaking with all of the people on site is also extremely helpful in making sure everyone has what they need in order to make a project successful.”
When Kathryn first entered the construction industry, she had a mentor in Morgan Tuschen. “Her patience and ability to help me truly understand the ins and outs of the job inspired me to be the best I could be,” said Kathryn.
Even though Kathryn was able to work with other women early in her construction career, not everyone is able to find other women to mentor them as they enter the industry. This lack of diversity can sometimes cause hesitation for other women wanting to enter the industry.
“At first, I was a little intimidated. It does take some time (at least for me) to find the power to put behind your knowledge,” she explained. “Once you get over the initial “fear”, it becomes more natural.”
You may be surprised to learn that more and more women are entering the construction industry, and there are several resources to connect them to each other. One of which is the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC). Kathryn has taken advantage of this resource.
“I was fortunate enough to attend their [NAWIC] conference in Atlanta a couple of years back. They are such a supportive group of women who empower you to use YOUR talents to progress your career and the industry.”
Moving deeper into what her experience has been as a woman in this industry, we were curious if she thought being a woman in a male-dominated industry was difficult.
“I believe it is what you make of it. You definitely have to make your presence known as a leader and as someone in a position of authority,” said Kathryn. “You may have to speak a little louder or be a little more firm, but your ideas always deserve to be heard and will help you be the leader that everyone admires.
“It can be challenging to be taken as seriously as men on a project and in the industry. However, with patience and determination, you can easily prove your well deserved worth to the project!” she said.
As we look forward, we reflect on the past to bring to light the changes we would like to see.
“It has nothing to do with my time at Astra, but I wish I had gotten into the industry sooner. I have really found my passion and love what I do. It just took me some time (and a whole separate degree) to get me here!
“I hope to see it become more commonplace for women to be seen on the project and in a leadership position. We are gaining in numbers, and the confident women that I know and have met through my time so far are making our presence known!”