Garnette Rouse is the concrete 3D modeling and detailing manager at Hoffman Structures, Inc., a multi-million dollar contracting company focused on innovation in safety, efficiency, quality, and environment. Garnette has been in the business since the 1990s, and says she’s seen the number of women in construction grow substantially since her early years.
“Hoffman’s really done well with being a champion of women,” she says. “We have a ton of project engineers that are women and have worked with more in the past three years than I’ve worked with in my entire previous career.”
But how do we keep the momentum going and make construction an industry that women WANT to be in? We caught up with Garnette recently and asked her for her best advice to young women considering a career in construction. Here’s what she said.
1. Know The Opportunities
Hard hats and hammers are not the only opportunities in the construction field, although Garnette is quick to say that if a woman wants to swing a hammer, there is no reason she can’t do it just as well as a man. Nevertheless, young women considering their career options should know that the construction field presents many old and new opportunities, from engineering and design to project management and trades. Technology has introduced additional fields of study that provide new opportunities for both young women and men of various backgrounds.
Young women considering their career options should know that the construction field presents many old and new opportunities, from engineering and design to project management and trades.
2. Find The Role Models
“There are a lot of women out there that are just in crazy powerful roles,” says Garnette. “They’re running projects like the widening of the Panama Canal and constructing 50-story buildings.”
Young women considering a construction career can feel encouraged by this reality, and Garnette encourages them to look for those role models who will inspire the next generation of women in construction and show them what’s possible.
3. Get Experience
The job site is not for everyone, Garnette notes. Both young women and young men who are interested in construction careers should look for opportunities to get hands-on experience, from tours of job sites to programs like Smart Girls Rock, to internships, these activities can help young people understand exactly what’s involved in the jobs they’re considering, and make informed decisions. But what’s important is that these young women see other women in industry, and companies who aspire to hire a diverse workforce need to understand that.
Garnette says she got started in her career after going to school for architecture. She discovered she wanted a more hands-on role, and took an internship in drafting. She found she enjoyed the work and after being offered a position at Hoffman, she stuck with it. Twenty seven years in, she’s thrilled to welcome a new generation of women in construction while continuing to push the boundaries of innovation and technology adoption at Hoffman.