To celebrate Women in Construction Week 2024, we sat down with a few of the many inspiring women at Schuchart, all working in different functions across our business, to share their experiences as women in construction and give us a glimpse into the many career opportunities for women in this industry.

This is part three of a three-part series.

Carla is our Director of Finance and Administration at Schuchart, a recent promotion elevating her to now serve as a member of our leadership team.

Carla likes to say that she didn’t choose construction, but rather, “construction chose me.” She began her journey in construction as a receptionist for a heavy highway contractor in Kodiak, Alaska.

While being a receptionist, Carla was exposed to a lot of the core functions of accounting, so the transition into the field “just made sense.” Carla loves the details, the structure, and the “cut and dry” nature of accounting. In her new role as Director of Finance and Administration, Carla mentions she especially loves to “dig deep when challenges arise and problem solve to find the best solution for the wellbeing of the company.”

As someone who didn’t initially set her sights on construction, Carla’s first reaction was “I can’t believe people charge that much money for dirt”, but as she grew into her role, seeing how all these specific types of rocks, dirt, and sand all play crucial roles in forming the big, strong highways we drive on every day, she was hooked.

This interest only grew as Carla joined Schuchart and went from seeing roads get built, to seeing whole buildings emerge from a simple plot of land. Not only that, but Carla was impressed by the types of projects, how artistic and complex they are, and the impact they have on the community.

She states, “I’m proud of the work we do. I’m proud that we take on challenging and unique projects.” Some of her favorite Schuchart projects include Chihuly Garden and Glass for its playful and unique nature and close ties to Seattle art and culture, and the Bullitt Center, for being so innovative, known as the “greenest office building in the world”, creating its own energy and water, making the building entirely off the grid.

Having been in the construction industry for over 30 years, Carla has witnessed how far the industry has come in terms of being more accepting and accessible to women, but she also sees how far we still have to go.

“There’s just an underlying perception that women don’t belong in this space”, Carla points out. She’s been in workplaces in the past where the assumption is that women do the “remedial tasks” like making the coffee and doing the dishes. But now, there are women working in all functions across construction, and that previous expectation of what a woman’s role should be is no longer the norm.

“We need to get rid of the stigma around women being in construction. Anyone can do construction; it just takes passion and the willingness to learn.” – Carla Simpson

Carla’s favorite part about being a woman in construction is the “sisterhood.” While, proportionately, there still aren’t many women in construction, the ones that are part of it “build each other up and are committed to supporting one another, which is really special to be a part of.”

When it comes to getting more women in construction, Carla simply states, “they just need to know that it’s an option.” Many people, especially women, grow up thinking that going to college and getting an “office job” is the only path. However, not only do we need skilled craftspeople to maintain and grow our built environment, but it’s also a fulfilling and often lucrative career.

As Carla was driving her three-year-old granddaughter in the car this past weekend, they passed a construction site, and her granddaughter started calling out the names of all the machinery, pointing and shouting, “excavator!” and “backhoe!” with pure excitement in her voice.

This Women in Construction Week, we take the time to celebrate the women in this industry, the hardships they have overcome, and the work they continually put in to make space for more women to enter this field. We hope to see more young girls like Carla’s granddaughter get excited about all the incredible opportunities construction has to offer!

Thank you for tuning into this series.