Building the Future: Clancy & Theys Female Employees Lead by Example at Work and in the Community
While women now make up the majority of the United States workforce (50.04%), they only comprise about 10% of the construction industry. Additionally, only about 8% of construction managers and less than 4% of trade workers are female, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Despite these lower percentages, the good news is they are exhibiting an upward trend and the number of women in the construction industry is projected to continue to increase in the coming years. To ensure these predictions come to fruition, several Clancy & Theys employees have become mentors in their communities.
Cassie Weidinger, Assistant Project Manager: Building Community through Networking and Volunteering
When Cassie began her career at Clancy & Theys two years ago, she brought a unique perspective from her more than 10 years in architecture. Her background has helped her merge the gap between architecture and construction by advancing our use of Virtual Design + Construction technologies on our projects.
Cassie has enjoyed immersing herself in fast-paced multifamily projects and learning how a project comes together from a field point of view. This new perspective has helped her realize the importance of merging another gap in our industry: the gap between women and construction.
“If we could reach out to women and let them know about the available opportunities for them in the industry, opportunities to be extremely successful, we could easily change the narrative regarding the role of women in construction,” said Cassie.
And that is exactly what she is doing. As a member of the National Association of Women in Construction’s (NAWIC) Greater Tidewater Chapter 137, Cassie helps supports the organization’s mission of promoting the industry to females and younger generations through networking and volunteering.
Most recently, Cassie volunteered as a judge for Block Kids, a national building competition that is sponsored on the local level by NAWIC chapters. During the competition, 4th graders from Crestwood Elementary in Chesapeake, Virginia had one hour, 100 LEGO pieces, and a few additional materials to construct a structure of their choice. In addition to picking the winning project, Cassie was able to share her experience to create awareness about the construction industry.
“A lot of the students didn’t know much about the industry before going into the event, but now they’ve gotten to experience what it is like to be a designer, an engineer and a construction worker,” she said. “Hopefully this exposure will spark an interest for many of the students, especially the young ladies.”
Laura Keyser, AIA, BIM/VD+C Coordinator: Building Skills through Teaching Technology
After working exclusively in architecture for more than 13 years, Laura was ready for a change. She had spent the majority of her career providing training, support, and implementation of BIM software, so when the BIM/VD+C Coordinator position opened at Clancy & Theys, she felt it was a natural progression.
In her role, Laura compares models from designers and subcontractors to identify potential issues before they arise during construction. She most enjoys the collaborative aspect of her role and being able to get other people, including project managers, superintendents, and field personnel, into the model space—something that carries over into her mentoring.
Laura is actively involved in the ACE (Architecture Construction Engineering) Mentor program, serving as both a team leader and as the President-Elect of the Associate Board of Directors for the Raleigh-Durham affiliate. This national program helps students learn about careers in the architecture, engineering, and construction (A/E/C) industry while working on an actual design project. Over the course of 15 two-hour sessions, the students work with mentors to design a project that meets that year’s given criteria, eventually building physical and digital models of their designs.
During the program, students learn about site design, building design, engineering, estimating and construction. In addition to the models, the teams also put together estimates and schedules, all of which are judged after a final presentation about their project.
“It is a wonderful opportunity for high school students to decide if this is the right fit for them and to gain an edge in their chosen path before they go to college or enter the workforce,” said Laura. “We are able to provide them with a hands-on opportunity to explore a variety of career paths within the industry and ask questions along the way.”
In addition to the ACE Mentor program, Laura organized the affiliate’s first-ever ACE Girls’ Day in the Field to encourage more young women to pursue careers in the industry. After its resounding success, the program will return again this summer.
Outside of ACE, Laura shares her knowledge with colleagues through presentations and roundtable discussions, including at Digital Built Week North America and the Revit Triangle User Group.
Tatiana Chichugova, Assistant Project Manager: Building Relationships through Building Schools
After earning her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Construction Management in her home country of Russia, Tatiana decided to pursue a Master of Science in Architecture at the University of Florida. During her studies, she realized that her passion was in construction, and upon graduating, began her career as an Assistant Project Manager at Clancy & Theys.
Tatiana enjoyed the intricacies of design, but liked the variety that construction offers. “Every day is different, and I love that,” Tatiana said. “Each day brings new challenges to solve and new people to collaborate with.”
During her tenure at Clancy & Theys, Tatiana has worked on a variety of educational facilities, ranging from K-12 private and public schools to higher education facilities. It is through these projects that Tatiana has had the opportunity to share her experiences with students and inspire them to pursue careers in the industry.
On one of her current projects at Millwee Middle School in Longwood, Florida, Tatiana was asked to guest speak at the girls’ engineering club to discuss her career with the young ladies.
“I want these young girls to know they are just as capable as their male classmates,” she said. “I want to inspire them to continue to pursue their education and careers in the industry.”
On another project in Longwood at Wekiva Elementary School, Tatiana, along with the project team, hosted educational events to update the students on what was happening on their campus. They brought in construction tools, equipment, and materials to introduce them to construction concepts. Afterward, many students wrote thank you letters and expressed their newfound interest in the construction industry.
Tatiana is also actively involved with the Academy of Construction Technologies, a program that prepares and trains high school students for careers in construction. Tatiana works directly with the student interns, mentoring them as they gain hands-on experience in the field.
Tatiana, Laura and Cassie all agree that the lack of knowledge of available career opportunities is the biggest obstacle facing the next generation of A/E/C workers—whether male or female. They believe it is critical to provide ample opportunities for our youth to discover all facets of the industry from trade work to project management. While it might be a large endeavor, it will help to inspire future architects, engineers and construction workers—and these women (and countless others) are up to the challenge.