Construction sites have long been stereotyped as a man’s area but a group of Anchorage women are proving women are involved in every area of the homebuilding industry. From architects to interior designers to mortgage lenders and electricians, women do it all. But despite their talents and involvement, many women say they still feel alone in the industry. A new Anchorage organization aims to change that.
Construction is still very much a man’s world, said Karen Kassik-Michelsohn, vice president of Michelsohn & Daughter Construction, and one of Anchorage’s few female builders. “I had my own set of challenges trying to be a woman in a man’s world, and I think Professional Women in Building can be a resource to help train and show some of the younger women how to navigate their careers.”
The AHBA Professional Women in Building Council represents women who are actively involved in all aspects of the building industry. The Anchorage chapter is part of the nationwide organization and was founded earlier this summer.
“There’s a lot of things women can do very well in the industry to add their personal touch,” said Creta Bloxom, the mortgage lending director at First National Bank. “Some women enjoy building and being on the job site. This organization will be there to help them network, know about jobs that are coming up and hopefully improve their profession through education and more.”
PWB will provide its members with networking opportunities, professional development and continuing education. It will also give these women, who are often surrounded by men at work, the opportunity to forge friendships with colleagues. “There’s a lot of very talented women in this community and to have them join forces and network together to create a base for women I think is a powerful component for our community,” Kassik- Michelsohn said.
Kassik-Michelsohn and many of the current members have worked their way up through the industry and are now excelling in their chosen field of expertise. These career professionals say they want the next generation to benefit from their knowledge. “To take the well- established professional women we have and use them as a grooming tool for younger women in the industry, both professional and trades, it’s a tremendously valuable resource,” said Kassik-Michelsohn.
“It’s been a male-dominated field for so long, and I think that young women have been maybe a little afraid to become part of it,” said Tami Taylor, a new home and residential specialist. “It’s nice for them to be able to talk to someone who has been successful in construction.”
“We need more young Alaskans working in our industry,” said Gina Lodge, the residential designer for Spinell Homes. “Companies are having a hard time finding people to work in the industry and the mission of PWB is to help educate younger Alaskans about jobs in the homebuilding industry. Our workforce is getting older and we need younger Alaskans to stay in our state.”
PWB members also have access to various publications, awards, scholarships, seminars and programs. The cost to become a member is $75 per year ($50 to NAHB and $25 to fund events at the local level).
To learn more about the PWB Council in Anchorage contact the AHBA at (907) 522-3605 or visit ahba.net.