March 6, 2017
Facilities Management
Bill Paulus


Women in Construction

Women in Construction

A couple of weeks ago, Kristia Davern, Eastcliff Facility Supervisor and Immediate Past President of the Minneapolis St Paul Chapter of the National Association of Women In Construction (NAWIC), sent me a note about Women in Construction Week, which begins today and is a week sponsored by NAWIC to highlight women’s roles in the construction industry. It caught my attention, because we have many women in our FM workforce, and because I know we can do a better job recruiting women to our teams.

I pulled some numbers about where we’ve been and where we are now. In 2000, women made up 2.86 percent of FM employees working in our trades functions and as project managers, architects and positions associated with construction. In 2016, we had 4.32 percent. That’s lower than the industry average of 8 - 9 percent. We’re making progress and I am committed to hiring and retaining more women on our crews.

We can start by examining our own actions. Why are the majority of our job applicants male? We know that children’s toys can influence their career choices. If you have a daughter, have you shown her how to hammer a nail, cut a board, or use a drill? The confidence gained from this type of early learning can show girls that construction skills are valuable and transferrable to a career setting. It’s not a guarantee of more women in the pipeline for jobs in the building trades, but subtle changes in our actions can affect the way girls view their options.

At work, FM is involved in strategic partnerships that support employee development within the construction industry. The U of M is a member of the Labor-Users-Contractors (LUC) Committee, which administers the PRO-10 training, a required course for all our Trades employees. LUC actively partners with groups such as the  Construction Careers Foundation (CCF), offering training opportunities for women to learn about the high wage, high skill careers available in construction. For example, a  female-only training class will be hosted by CCF later this spring at no cost to participants. To learn more about the class, contact Vicki Sandberg, the PRO-10 Director.

If you’re a woman working on an FM crew, think about what challenges you face and what motivates you to advance your career within FM. Then, talk to your manager about how to include your goals as part of your professional development. If you work with women on your team, I urge you to consider what you can do to ensure your colleagues’ contributions are valued and recognized.  

Have a great week,


Weekly Notes

Bill Paulus the interim AVP for FM
Bill Paulus is the interim Associate Vice President for Facilities Management. He regularly publishes memos to communicate information and issues that affect FM staff.