by Bridget Kulla
In the U.S., women make up about 9 percent of the construction industry, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And in Minneapolis, Minnesota, this national trend seems to ring true, too.
“Sitting in a [construction industry] meeting, you quickly realize there are so many more men in the room,” says Masha Romer, James Hardie Building Products Metro Representative. “You catch yourself scanning the room for women—we’re rare.”
Last May, friends and colleagues, Romer and Leah Krig, owner of Northland Woodworks, met up for lunch and found themselves getting excited about the idea of starting a local network for women in new construction.
Their hopes were to launch a strong support network, fostering the advancement of women in the construction industry. The community of women, aptly called WINC (Women in New Construction), could assist one another in mentoring and career and personal development.
WINC founders Masha Romer and Leah Krig at the February Roth Living Showroom event.
So the two sent an email to all of the female contacts they knew in the construction industry to gauge interest.
“The flood of responses back were surprising,” Romer says. “There was so much interest.”
Since then, the diverse group of over 100 women has met up at monthly industry-related events and social gatherings.
“Though networking and the social aspect is a major driving factor for WINC, our goal is to make each month's event meaningful in another way, through education or philanthropy,” says Leah Krig.
Whether it’s a four-course chef’s dinner, a round table event, a charity, or a model home tour with the designer—each monthly event is a way to gather, learn, give back, build friendships and have meaningful conversations about each other and the industry.
February’s WINC meet-up included a four-course dinner at a local showroom, showcasing kitchen appliances.
“The round table meet-ups are a good chance to get to know one another, interact, share issues and answer questions and concerns,” Romer says. “We talk about a range of topics from managing and hiring employees, to speaking up in a group, to balancing family and work.”
“We want this group to be beneficial for several aspects of each members' personal and professional life, not just the social aspect,” Krig says.
WINC recently appointed seven committee members to help delegate tasks, manage social media and plan for upcoming events. A logo and official mission statement are in the works
“Now, we have a network of our own, a group to call on for support.” Romer says. “It’s empowering.”
US Bureau of Labor Statistics Current Population Survey: www.bls.gov/cps/cpsaat14.pdf