Construction Management looks to diversify by adding women

State Hornet Staff

With a 100 percent post-graduation job placement rate, the construction management program on campus has proven to be one of the most successful departments at Sacramento State, but is looking to diversify by inviting more women to join.

Construction Management Chair Mikael Anderson said there is a place for women, which comprised just  6.8 percent of the program in 2012, but the issue arises in part by the reputation and misinterpretation of the major.

“I think a lot of times people think of construction management as out doing the work,” Anderson said. “Really, you’re out managing the work. It’s a very professional degree that I think gets kind of a bad rep.”

Anderson said many of the students within the program are men who were already a part of the trade. Women are different in that not many have  been a part of the hands-on work prior to receiving a degree.

“You don’t see a lot of women because it’s not very inviting for a woman who graduates high school to go do carpentry work,” Anderson said. “It’s not typically something they do.”

Construction management major Angelica Figueroa said she had no experience in the field when she chose her major, but was drawn towards the business and engineering components.

“At first I was iffy,” Figueroa said. “I didn’t know much about it, but I decided to just go for it and it’s been fun.”

Figueroa said in classes there usually only two or three female students, and it took some getting used to.

“Most of the guys are nice and they are helpful,” Figueroa said. “But it would be nice to not feel like the minority.”

Figueroa also credits a misinterpretation of the major for the lack of women, figuring most people assume it is one that requires hands-on labor.

“It’s a perspective many people have,” Figueroa said. “Not a lot of women join because of the word ‘construction,’ but in reality, you don’t really get too much into physical work.”

Sac State is one of the only schools in California with a construction management program. With just 100 to 200 students involved in the program each year, the few amount of women in the relatively small major has become a national problem, with most schools hovering around 10 percent.

The decrease in the amount of women in the program since 2008 was enough to motivate the department to take action.

The College of Engineering and Computer Science held a career day March 7 and invited women working in the male-dominated construction industry to speak in an attempt to capture the interest of local college women.

According to Sac State public affairs the goal was to bring at least 15 additional women into the construction management program for the 2014-15 academic year.

Construction management professor Keith Bisharat said he has been adamant about getting women to join the department for years without much luck, but decided to help to coordinate the event.

“Women can be very effective in construction management because they are well equipped to understand a situation and solve a problem,” Bisharat said. “There’s a terrific opportunity for them in this field, and I hope we get a good result and get more women in the program.”

Cici Mattiuzzi, director of the engineering and computer sciences career services, said in construction management, (many companies in construction see women bringing different set of skills and talents to the table and find success in hiring them.

“I have a lot of concern when I talk with companies and they say, ‘geez,where are the women?’”Mattiuzzi said. “In many instances there are none.”

Mattiuzzi said the environment within construction management is a place where strong-willed women can potentially thrive.

“It’s not a real user-friendly world for women,” Mattiuzzi said. “You have to sort of make your way in all areas of engineering, but in construction especially. These are strong personality women they are not shy and unassuming. It takes a pretty big personality to run a construction project and get everyone working in concert.”

For the program, Mattiuzzi said this is the first heavy duty attempt to get women into the program.

“There’s plenty women like this that are interested in making a career out of that, and we want to introduce them to the opportunities that are out there,” Anderson said.