To celebrate Women’s History Month, AGU is recognizing the women making our headquarters renovation possible. From the leadership team to the subcontractors to the finishers, women play a critical role in the success of this project. Whether it is proving that their voice is equal to others in the room or drawing on inspiration from role models throughout history and in their lives, the women on the project team have a number of different reasons why they are proud to be in construction. Read more below from our conversations with the women of the project team. Their responses have been edited for clarity and length.
Q: When did you know you wanted to get involved in the construction field?
Yolanda Cole, Principal-in-Charge, Hickok Cole Architects had a knack for creating, but the path to architecture wasn’t always clear. “After I graduated from college with a degree in music education I switched gears to pursue a career in architecture,” she says. “As a young person I was always making things. When my parents decided to build a house, I was very involved in pouring over the plans. It [architecture] just seemed to always be there in the background.”
Subcontractor, Krissia Gomez, working for Cindell Construction felt inspired at a young age: “I knew I wanted to be involved when I saw my dad build our house when I was a child.”
Kodi Coe, Senior Project Manager, Skanska USA knew since high school that she wanted to be involved in the field. “My father and grandfather had their own business and I grew up in construction.”
Q: Why do you think it is important for women to be involved in the construction field?
Greta Perry, Owner’s Representation, MGAC believes women are important in the field because they “bring a different approach to collaborative problem solving, creative solutions and ability to manage.”
Subcontractor, Kayvin Santos, working for Cindell Construction thinks having women involved helps break through the gender divide.
Q: What has been the most challenging aspect about being a woman in this field?
Holly Lennihan, Project Manager, Hickok Cole Architects says it’s “frustrating that most positions of ‘power’ in the field are held by men.”
Emily Edwards, Drywall/Framing Project Manager, Cindell Construction Company jokingly says the hardhat hair was a small challenge on the job but explains the larger challenge of representing all women in her role in the construction field. Starting out, she thought people would judge her for making mistakes or asking questions. “I feared they would say that women couldn’t hack it in the construction field, that I couldn’t hack it in the construction field,” she says.
Subcontractor, Ericka Hernandez, working for Cindell Construction says it’s “being misunderstood or looked down upon for simply being a woman.”
Q: What has been the most satisfying about being a woman in this field?
Greta sees the field changing into one “where women lead the team, with great outcomes and significant results” as the most satisfying part of being in the field.
Subcontractor, Evelin Bonilla, working for Cindell Construction is satisfied knowing she has “the knowledge and confidence to do my job perfectly, every time.”
Subcontractor, Rosi Ramos, working for Cindell Construction takes satisfaction in knowing that as long as she works hard, she shows that women are “equal in this field and can be active members of the construction industry.”
Q: How has working on the AGU project been different for you compared to other projects?
Lindsey Falasca, Project Architect, Hickok Cole Architects sees the team-oriented approach as the bedrock of what makes the AGU project different. “There has always been a sense that all viewpoints should be considered equally in order to achieve the best results,” she says.
Holly values the client’s different priorities on the project. She expressed that AGU’s net zero energy goal and taking risks on new technologies make the project special. “The client has shown strong leadership and that leadership will pay off in the form of paving the way for other building owners to follow,” she says.
Samantha Patke, Senior Mechanical Engineer, Interface Engineering feels that “every individual no matter how large or small their role has always had a seat at the table,” on the AGU project. “Everyone is putting their best effort forward to achieve a common goal,” she says. Samantha saw this best exemplified when Chris McEntee presented the project and goals of construction at the start of construction.
Q: What is your favorite aspect or feature of the AGU project/building?
Lindsey’s favorite part of the project is “the stuff that most people will never see.” “Hidden within AGU is a maze of piping and ductwork that was complicated to coordinate and amazing to see installed,” she says.
Subcontractor, Emperatriz Lopez, working with Cindell Construction loves that “everything is related to taking care of the environment and it is a good example for all companies.”
Subcontractor, Susana Cifuentes, working with Cindell Construction admires how the project is so related to the environment since she agrees that it is very important to take care of our environment.
Ericka enjoys the opportunity the project presents to learn something new every day.
Q: Who inspires you in women’s history or is your biggest female role model, and why?
Kodi’s mother is her biggest role model. “She was a single mother and raised me and my brother on her own. She worked hard, never complained and I never wanted for anything,” she says.
Emily struggled with picking just one woman role model, but ultimately landed on Maya Angelou. “Her ability to rise and reinvent herself, for her unquenchable thirst to grow and learn, and for her strength to speak her mind even when it was not popular to do so,” are the traits she admires the most.
Rosi says, “Working women are my inspiration because they show every day that we can do anything.”