The focus of Women in Construction (WIC) Week (March 3-9) is to highlight women as a viable component of the construction industry. WIC Week also provides an occasion for NAWIC’s thousands of members across the country to raise awareness of the opportunities available for women in the construction industry and to emphasize the growing role of women in the industry. It is also a time for local chapters to give back to their communities.
Follow along with us throughout the week as we sit down and chat with some of our incredible Women in Construction at Comfort Systems USA Southwest!
MICHELLE HNAT- COMFORT SYSTEMS USA SOUTHWEST PROJECT ENGINEER
Years in the industry: 3 years
Years at Comfort Systems USA Southwest: 3 years
Why did you originally seek a job within a construction company?
When I was applying I was looking for an environment similar to the military: Organizational hierarchy, outlined roles and responsibilities, and working in extreme environments.
What do you like the most about working in the construction industry? What do you like the most about working at Comfort Systems USA Southwest?
The construction industry is so vast that I am learning new things every day. I was never interested in HVAC or Plumbing at all. Now, I find myself staring at registers and duct whenever I go out. What I like most about Comfort is the family environment and support I receive.
There is an obvious lack of women within our industry (compared to men in the industry). Comfort Systems USA Southwest is making a concerted effort to attract more women into the industry. Personally, do you feel that the construction industry as a whole is embracing women?
Yes, I am noticing more women but mostly at the general contractor level. I have seen other trades (painters, electricians) with more female presence in the field.
Why do you think the percentage of men to women within the industry is so low?
Traditionally, this is a male dominated field. With the progression of equal rights, more women are realizing they can work in construction.
What can Comfort Systems USA Southwest do to attract women into the indsutry?
They can offer the types of competitive wages that they do for men . Diversify your administrators; don’t just seek women for “female roles” such as administrative assistant, receptionist, coordinator, etc. Attracting more women means showing diversity in all fields. If you only hire women in those roles, then you are telling women that is where they belong. If you can’t find them, develop them. Train coordinators to be engineers. Give that receptionist a chance to move to purchasing if they show aptitude.
Any words of wisdom or advice for women who are thinking about joining the industry, or for those who are new to it?
It isn’t for everyone, but neither is being a receptionist. If you haven’t found your passion, try the construction industry. I absolutely love my job!