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Construction Conversation: Abby Redditt

In honor of Women in Construction week, Constructor magazine recently connected with several women in the industry to get their take on what it means to be in a predominantly male industry, the obstacles they’ve faced in their journey and whether they would choose the same career again. Spoiler alert: They would.

ABBY REDDITT
PROJECT  MANAGER, TRANSPORTATION DIVISION
BELL CONSTRUCTION
A Carolinas AGC member

Q: HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN INVOLVED IN THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY?

A: 2022 marks my fifth year in the construction industry. I worked for the Tennessee Department of Transportation for two years and have been with BELL Construction for the last three years.

Q: WHAT MADE YOU CONSIDER A CAREER IN CONSTRUCTION?

A: After graduating with a degree in Civil Engineering, I didn’t feel called to pursue a career in design. I explored different career options available to civil engineers and began applying for positions within the construction industry. After I began my first job, I quickly learned that I enjoyed working in the construction industry due to the nature of the work and the people I was working with.

Q: IF YOU WERE TO DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN, WOULD YOU? WOULD THERE ANYTHING YOU’D DO DIFFERENTLY?

A: I would absolutely do it all over again, and I wouldn’t change a thing. I enjoy what I do, and I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished. I’m fortunate to be where I am.

Q: HOW ARE YOU OR YOUR COMPANY FACILITATING CHANGE OR IMPLEMENTING INNOVATION IN ORDER TO KEEP THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY ADVANCING AND VIABLE? WHAT TRAILBLAZING HAVE YOU DONE?

A: BELL Construction does a great job at hiring the best candidates based on experience and skills. I’m fortunate to continue to have positive experiences as a woman in the construction industry because of BELL’s culture As I’ve continued to advance, I’ve never experienced pushback from male leaders or coworkers. However, in almost every meeting I lead or participate in, I am the only female in the room. While the construction industry may be predominately male for now, I’m hopeful women will feel more confident to step into this industry.

Q: WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHER WOMEN IN THE INDUSTRY OR FOR WOMEN CONSIDERING A CAREER IN THIS FIELD?

A: My advice is always to ask questions. Starting a new job or role provides a lot of learning opportunities, and it’s important not to let them pass because you’re scared to look “unknowledgeable” by asking a question. Every new person, female or male, has skill gaps that can only be filled by asking questions and learning from those with experience.

I would also recommend studying and researching new tasks before trying them. There’s a big difference between not knowing and not trying. People want to see that you’re willing to put in the effort to better yourself and develop your skills.

Q: IN WHAT’S SEEN AS A MALE-DOMINATED FIELD, HAVE YOU HAD ANY TROUBLE ADVANCING? WHAT CHALLENGES HAVE YOU FACED?

A: I’m very fortunate to say that I have not had many challenges advancing. My supervisors have acknowledged my hard work and I’ve advanced along the same trajectory as my male coworkers. My supervisors have also supported my professional development by encouraging and helping me obtain my Professional Engineering License.

Q: WITH THE CURRENT WORKFORCE SHORTAGE, DO YOU SEE MORE WOMEN ENTERING THE FIELD? MORE SPECIFICALLY, DO YOU SEE YOUR FIRM TARGETING WOMEN HIRES? WHAT ARE EFFECTIVE RECRUITMENT EFFORTS WHEN IT COMES TO WOMEN?

A: The new push of STEM in primary and secondary education may encourage more women to get involved in the industry. There have been so few women in the past because women aren’t shown what the field has to offer. As young women see other women in established construction careers, they’ll be more willing to consider the same path for themselves.

I like to think that I’ve begun to lay a foundation for female project managers within BELL Construction that will open doors for future female candidates. I know that with so few women in the industry, our work ethic and performance will dictate the path for many other women that will come after us. I don’t take that responsibility lightly. 

Q: THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY HAS CHANGED WITH THE TIMES, AS MOST INDUSTRIES HAVE DONE. WHAT HAS STAYED THE SAME? WHAT PART OF THE INDUSTRY DO YOU THINK WILL REMAIN A CONSTANT?

A: Even within the short five-year window that I’ve been in the industry, I’ve witnessed many changes. However, my favorite thing about the construction world is the people I’ve met and had the privilege to work with. The construction world will always be an industry that centers around good people and good relationships. I’ve been able to meet some fascinating and kind people that I never would have had the opportunity to meet if not for our jobs.

Q: HOW IMPORTANT IS IT FOR COMMERCIAL CONTRACTORS TO STAY CONNECTED WITH FELLOW INDUSTRY PEERS THROUGH AGC MEMBERSHIP?

A: Industry involvement is always important because you never know where your career will take you. Established relationships go a long way in the professional world!

Q: WHAT DO YOU ENJOY DOING IN YOUR SPARE TIME?

A: I love spending time outside hiking, biking, swimming, traveling, and spending time with my family. I love visiting new places and have been so lucky to have traveled to several countries and have visited several national parks.