The Construction Management Women’s Association is taking a sledgehammer to break down the walls of stereotypes surrounding women in construction.
CMWA started in 2020 which caused a rough start to the organization due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On top of starting the club, the construction management program has about 20 girls in it at a time. Senior president Hailey Schwieger said the organization is a way to build friends and put their names out there.
“If there’s only about one or two girls at a time in your class, it’s kind of hard to meet other women in the program. We thought it was better for us to join forces and meet other women going into the industry,” said Schwieger. “By building a community of women in the program and spreading diversity, we also look to recruit girls into our major and into the construction field.”
With construction management having more males in the field, senior administrative assistant Cindy Wuddah said she’s faced challenges on a job site from being a female.
“I’ve walked to a job site and someone has said ‘What are you doing here?’ I think when you talk about construction, there’s a certain group of people that people picture,” said Wuddah. “It’s important to have camaraderie with the girls, encourage each other to keep going and just promote women in the program.”
Throughout the year, CMWA does a variety of events including the annual Construction Management Undergraduate Student Engagement Symposium.
“We have a range of industry speakers come in to talk on a wide range of topics from diversity inclusion to safety to renewable resources. It’s really for our students to build their professional brand,” said senior vice president Michaela Sylvester.
The construction management major is a production-based major with more projects and job site tours rather than quizzes and papers. Certain classes students may take are 3D design, materials and methods and sustainability. The major also requires an internship of 12 weeks and 480 hours to graduate.
Schwieger said Minnesota State’s construction management faculty has been helpful in getting them the education they need.
“The faculty are constantly checking in if you need any help getting your name out there and they have no problem reaching out to a company if you need a job,” said Schwieger.
Despite construction being a male-dominated field, Wuddah and Sylvester said CMWA wants to change student’s perspectives on entering the workforce.
“People have the perception that construction is for men. To me, No job is gender specific,” said Wuddah.
“I remember when I first told my mom I was switching my major to construction management, she was like ‘are you sure you want to be with all those guys all day?’ At the time, I was just thinking the job sounds cool,” said Sylvester. “You think of construction as some big white dudes swinging a hammer and we’re just trying to change that.”
Schwieger encourages anyone who’s interested in construction management to give it a try.
“It’s not as intimidating as you think,” said Schwieger.
CMWA meets Thursdays at 10 a.m. in Wiecking Center 349. Students can receive additional information at cmwa20.wixsite.com/cmwa.
Header photo: From left, seniors Michaela Sylvester, Cindy Wuddah and Hailey Schwieger started the Construction Management Women’s Association in order to build a community with other girls going into the major. (Lilly Anderson/The Reporter)
Write to Emma Johnson at email@example.com