Women Breaking the Mold: Construction Management

Women Breaking the Mold: Construction Management

Sara Plummer
Women Breaking the Mold: Construction Management

Construction Management wasn’t exactly where Ashley Walls thought she would find her career.

Walls initially enrolled in another program at OSU Institute of Technology, but soon found it just wasn’t the right fit for her she took the advice of her boss at Lithko Contracting and looked into Construction Management.

“It’s been kind of challenging since I didn’t have any experience, but everyone has been helpful,” she said, and being one of the only women in the program hasn’t been an issue. “I have four brothers so being around a bunch of guys wasn’t a problem for me.”

Before she enrolled in Construction Management, Walls was working in Lithko’s Catoosa office doing paperwork, but when she starts her internship there in a few months, her responsibilities will be different.

This summer I’ll be on the jobs sites dealing with my own crew, she said and she can’t wait. I don’t like paperwork.

Steve Olmstead, chair of the School of Construction Technologies, said women seem to be more detail oriented and have better interpersonal skills, both critical to the construction industry.

“Men and women bring different strengths and the combination of which delivers far better teams and results,” Olmstead said.

Walls said she sees Construction Management as a good fit for her and other women should consider it as well.

“I’m a woman going into the construction business so I’ll have more opportunities to advance than in other fields,” she said. “I like seeing dirt turn into a building. It’s a misconception that in construction you’ll be a ditch digger.”

But that doesn’t mean it’s for everyone, Walls said.

“There’s a lot of stress. You have to be strong-willed,” she said. “There aren’t too many women in the field.”

Olmstead said that is changing.

I see more and more women enter the construction industry because of the great paying jobs, he said. I believe the construction industry is trying to attract a greater diversity of people in the profession.

Walls said she’s excited about her future in construction management.

“It’s a whole new life I didn’t picture for myself. Now I have my life planned out with a future for myself,” she said.

This is the third in a series of stories about women enrolled in some of OSUIT's more traditionally male programs