Women In Construction Week - Abby Redditt
Mar 3, 2020
It’s day two of Women in Construction Week 2020, and we asked Abby Redditt, Transportation Project Engineer, about her experience as a young female in construction.
“There is a false perception that women are not welcome in construction and that needs to be changed. It starts with women working hard and succeeding to show others that it’s a great career choice for all people, women included.”
What got you interested in construction?
I graduated with a civil engineering degree without a heavy interest in design work. I realized construction was a great way to implement what I learned in school and also be a part of a team. Accelerated Bridge Construction really appealed to me because it seemed like high-stakes Legos. At the time, I didn’t know the level of detail that was required for these types of projects but the complexity and planning got me interested early on.
How did you get your start?
I am a high energy person who enjoys being outside, so I began working in a TDOT construction office as a field engineer. I got some great experience and was able to see different methods of construction while working with several different contractors.
Was there anyone that inspired you to pursue a career in construction?
Scott McKinney, a senior project manager at BELL, has encouraged me the most to continue my career in construction. After working with him on several projects, I’ve seen his integrity, hard work, and passion for the job, and that has inspired me to follow in his footsteps. He has valued my input and decision-making abilities and has encouraged my growth in the construction industry.
What challenges have you had and what have you learned from them to help you advance?
Like anybody beginning their career, the biggest challenge was not knowing everything you need /want to know right away. Of course, I’m not going to know everything as well as people that have been here for more than 30 years. Construction is changing all the time so it’s important to observe, study, and ask questions. One of my favorite things about working for the BELL team is that if I need help with something or need a detailed explanation, I know I can reach out to anybody on my team and they are happy to help me.
How can the field/industry improve in getting women more involved?
I’m not sure the industry needs to be pushing for women to get involved. If women want to be more involved, then they should go for it. Learn a trade or get a degree and dive in. People in this business don’t care about your gender as long as you have something valuable to bring to the table. I have never received any pushback in the construction world because I am a female; instead, I’ve been encouraged and mentored by people that see potential in me, and I’m grateful for the opportunities that I’ve been given.
What advice do you have for women considering a career in construction?
I would advise women to be confident in their roles but never assume they know everything. Be present, work hard, and never miss a chance to learn something new. Be personable when interacting with colleagues. The most valuable tool you have as a young professional is being around people with several years of experience. There’s a reason they’ve been there for so long! Most of them want to pass on the knowledge, so jump on board and learn from them.
Why do you believe that it is essential to have women in construction?
Women are important in construction because we offer a different perspective. We have different personalities and different temperaments that adds value to a team. Too much of the same isn’t always a good thing, so it’s helpful that we bring diversity into the mix.
How would you grade the industry in getting women involved? What could be improved?
There is a false perception that “women are not welcome in construction” and that needs to be changed. It starts with us women working hard and succeeding to show others that it’s a great career choice for all people, women included. More women making the choice to join this industry will encourage other women to do it, too.