Women In Construction Succeeding

By Liz Moucka | September 28, 2010

Texas is home to the premier rganization mentoring women who have found themselves employed in construction fields. "Women in Construction of Fort Worth" was founded in 1953. Two years later in 1955, with additional chapters in Dallas, Houston, Austin, Waco, and San Antonio, the group was chartered as the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC).

NAWIC is different from most trade associations in that the members (all being women aside) represent widely differing markets within the construction industry — architectural, engineering, heavy commercial, residential, MEP, lumber and steel supply, accounting, and legal to name a few. They hold positions ranging from trades woman, engineer or clerk, to owner or CEO. Creating informative and educational programs for such a diverse membership base can be a challenge. The one mission that brings these women together is a desire for professionalism and upward mobility. NAWIC has become the perfect mentoring ground for professional development.

Success Stories

Texas women who credit a large part of their business success include some of our construction community business leaders, and some, who choose to remain with their employers of long standing, but in a more valuable role.

Karolene Pittman, CIT, is a vice president with Fort Worth-based Thos. S. Byrne, the largest minority-owned general building contractor in Texas. In addition to being active on the chapter and regional levels of NAWIC, Pittman has served on the national level on the board of directors, and as committee chair for NAWIC's Legislative Awareness and Safety & Health committees.

"Becoming a member of NAWIC has made a significant impact in my professional growth at Thos. S. Byrne," Pittman said. "NAWIC has provided major support in my duties and responsibilities. I have benefited from NAWIC national conventions, regional and local chapter participation through seminars, speakers, and workshops."

Julie Foret, CCA, CIT, now the president of Mountain Door & Hardware in El Paso, has grown professionally during her service to NAWIC as a regional director, national treasurer and national vice-president. "The most important benefits I have gleaned from my 29 years as a NAWIC member are the educational courses which I have studied and completed, and the networking with other members, both local and nationwide."

Professional Training

"The NAWIC Education Foundation (NEF) offers construction-related courses which are not available through any other source," explained Julie Foret, who has served for several years on the board of trustees for the NEF. "NEF is constantly growing and expanding those courses."

Through the NEF, members can earn certifications that carry continuing education units (CEUs). All are self-paced home-study programs with a final exam administered by an independent monitor on pre-set dates.

The Construction Industry Technician (CIT) certification presents an overview of the industry and its processes, including the various types of construction, forms of ownership, contract documents, stages of construction, insurance, and bonding. The Construction Document Specialist (CDS) certification deals with construction drawings, specifications, project management, estimating, and scheduling. The Certified Construction Associate (CCA) course is a six-part program which covers, in depth, Business Analysis, Construction Environs, Construction Principles, Effective Communication, Labor Relations, and Management Techniques. Each part has a separate test and all six parts must be successfully completed to earn the certificate. Further information on the NEF courses and certifications can be found at www.nawiceducation.org.

"I thought the CIT would be a piece of cake," remarked Judy DeWeese, CIT, with Mauzé Construction Corporation in San Antonio. "After all, I'd been doing this type of work for years, but it [CIT certification] was hard. We are a residential builder and I am responsible for all matters relating to accounting, insurance and contract approval. Through the CIT course, I was exposed to types of contracts and procedures other than what my company has in place."