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Building Success: Women in Construction Week 2024

Betsy Ennis

In 1998, the first week of March was designated as Women in Construction Week, at a time when women only made up 3.4% of the workforce. Flashforward to 2024, where women now make up over 10% of the workforce, and the 26th annual weeklong celebration just wrapped. At JP Cullen, our commitment to celebrating diversity and recognizing the contributions of women is a year-round dedication. Check out how we celebrated last week! Throughout our week, we had a goal of celebrating and raising awareness around our company and communities, by utilizing internal and external events.

 

 

We hosted an internal panel exclusively for women in our company. This event brought together women from each office, various jobsites, and trades to speak candidly, share insights, and foster networking connections. The panel consisted of all JP Cullen women including Katie Muth, Marketing Director; Amy La Mere-Stoops, Division Manager; Diann Balke, Executive Assistant; Sam Groth, Project Manager; and Elisa Shapson, Assistant Superintendent. The panel was moderated by Jeannie Cullen Schultz, Co-President and Owner

The topics and questions were centered around three main objectives:

  • Inclusiveness and Mentorship
  • Personal Growth and Well-Being
  • Professional Growth

Jeannie kicked off the panel with a welcome and reflection on what it means to her as a leader, and owner to have such a strong community of women and men in the room. A few highlights from our panelists below:

Sam discussed what it means to be a female on the jobsite and some of the preconceived notions around that, “When a woman in our industry steps onto the jobsite, people are always assuming something about us or our roles, qualifications or what we bring to the table” Sam expressed the frequency of having to explain herself or why she is qualified to be here. This was something the entire room resonated with and benefited from Sam’s openness on sharing how her environment might lead to questions more often than another female occupation.

Elisa reflected on what it meant to her and her journey seeing a woman as a superintendent on the jobsite for the first time. “I really saw myself in her and was able to see the potential that I can do this. That was a part of why I’m here and want to do this. To inspire other women that you can be in the field role and make it and have a real impact.

Amy discussed the major turning point in her own 25-year career, “The majority of my career has been spent being the only woman in the room. I think there was a major shift for me in my career, going from wanting to fit in and being on the side, to wanting to be pulled up, and be a leader.”

Being approachable from peers along with leading the marketing department, was a topic asked of Katie, who has been with JP Cullen for over 20 years. “Be a little vulnerable! You don’t need to be perfect all the time and nobody ever is. I take the same approach with my peers. I try and look out for them, always thinking about the next step is to set us all up for success.”

Diann has been an advocate and leader for the internal support group for over a decade she stressed effective communication on jobs “Do not be afraid to ask questions. We love to talk about our jobs, we are proud of our work. Talk to our guys, our field men and women, if you have questions pull them aside.”

The panel brought together members of every office, female and male attendees were able to learn and grow from each other in a way that celebrated every woman in the room.

Other events we participated in during the week included the WRTP Big Step Women In Construction Career Exploration Fair with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Dane County. Laura Cullen, Megan O’Brien, and Claire Olsen teamed up to speak to many young adults about the benefits of a career in construction.

Hannah Jost, an Estimator in our Milwaukee Division, held an event for the younger generations of future females in the construction industry, 15 students from Milwaukee School of Engineering. She presented on what her road to being a female in the construction industry looked like, answered questions, and arranged for other JP Cullen female staff members to be in attendance for networking and relationship building.

Lastly, we made sure to have representatives at EmpowHER events throughout the week including the Connecting to Build event and the Women Build Wisconsin event.

Ensuring internal celebrations and having representation at external events statewide was crucial to a successful Women in Construction Week. JP Cullen is constantly looking for ways to improve, expanding opportunities to women, and truly developing a supportive environment for all employees. Our commitment to growth and inclusivity is unmatched as we continue to explore ways to enhance company culture and support the women and men on our jobsites, in our offices and our clients who we are lucky enough to work with.

Whether you’re already a part of the industry or looking to break barriers with us at JP Cullen, reach out to our Training & Development team at HR@jpcullen.com learn more about open positions, diversity opportunities and events.

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