The Women Construction Forum (WCF), an Upstate, S.C. based group of female construction professionals, had an impactful year in both membership growth and community outreach efforts. Co-founded in 2019 by Angela Gardner, Business Development Director for Hill Electric, and Rachel Veltri, owner of Neves Construction, WCF exists to “help build up women and their voices in the construction industry by empowering, engaging, and mentoring women entering the construction industry.”
To carry out their mission, WCF has engaged with the community by speaking at technical colleges and career centers to reach women considering construction as a possible career path. Over the past three years, WCF members have volunteered their time to speak directly to women at Greenville Technical College (Greenville Tech), Anderson Districts I & II Career and Technology Center (ACTC), and Bonds Career Center through video and one-on-one interactions.
WCF has effectively leveraged social media, mostly LinkedIn to connect with women in the Carolinas and beyond to educate them about workforce development and career building.
“In 2020, we found that LinkedIn was generating interest in women around the world in the construction industry. We also use LI as a platform to increase knowledge of other women around America who are making an impact in our industry in skilled trades and construction whenever we can,” explained Rachel Veltri, Neves Construction, noting the hashtag: #womenbuildamerica.
Sharing their Passion
In 2021, WCF members used their voices to generate interest in skilled trades and construction careers in a variety of ways.
On September 13, four members were guests on Dave Cooper LIVE show themed, Women Making an Impact in the Ecosystem of Construction.
In December, three WCF members interviewed on The Boone Show on My Pulse Radio, produced by the Anderson Career and Technology Center in Williamston, S.C. Listen to this podcast (aired on December 7), for which the promo reads, “Hear how three area women are succeeding in helping other women succeed in the construction field! Lots of rich content – and we have some fun, too!”
Women Talk Construction, the Podcast
On March 1, 2022, Angela Gardner, WCF Co-Founder, and Christi Powell, WBE National Market Manager for 84 Lumber, officially launched a new podcast they co-created, named Women Talk Construction. Check it out at www.womentalkconstruction.com.
“Our new podcast will be a home to interviews with amazing women sharing their journeys in construction, information on job openings, and a way to connect with a community of like-minded women, men supporting women, and much more,” said Gardner.
Video Series: Building the Future of Women in Construction
WCF members have developed three videos to-date for distribution to career centers and colleges. The purpose of the series is to create a better understanding of “What it is like to be a woman in the field of construction.” WCF’s most recent video used the new Greenville County Square office tower, currently under construction by DPR, as a backdrop – thanks to WCF members Laurie Gregory, DPR Senior Project Manager, and Marissa Bischoff, DPR Project Engineer.
Watch all three of WCF’s Building the Future of Women in Construction videos created to-date:
Engaging, Empowering and Mentoring Leads to Steady Growth in Membership
WCF continues to experience a steady increase in membership. “In 2021, we held our first WCF Annual Conference – in Banner Elk, North Carolina – and we saw a rise in interest among Greenville Technical College (GTC) and Clemson University students wanting to be involved with our group,” noted Veltri.
Women Construction Forum offers female students a network of mentors. We are a diverse group of women in construction who want to improve the industry for the next generation. By sharing our stories of struggles and perseverance, we are equipping these young women with invaluable insight. Additionally, we have countless networking opportunities for the students.Tommi Jones, PE, LEED AP, GGP
Project Manager, Clemson University, Capital Projects.
Looking ahead, WCF will continue their outreach efforts in the community, and provide mentorship and opportunities for women in construction. In 2023, they plan to announce their first open networking event, at which construction professionals outside of the group can gather annually to have fun and network with WCF members.
“We have been contacted by many companies and entities that want to support our efforts and network with our members. Therefore, we decided to develop an annual networking event that will provide a venue for all of us to get together and exchange ideas. As part of this future networking event, we hope to be able to provide scholarships to the next generation of construction professionals,” said Veltri.