Women in building | Build My Future OKC

5 Women in Building Who Inspire Me

Last week was a huge week – we hosted over 1300 high school students for Build My Future OKC, Natalie of the Utah Professional Women in Building and I did a great podcast about The House That She Built, and we wrapped up Careers in Construction month. Whew!

There were so many young women at Build My Future. It was so exciting to see the promise and the opportunity both young women and young men bring to the building industry and skilled trades. 

Yet there are 2 realities in the building industry today – women are still very much in the minority in the industry and there is a large skilled labor shortage. As our skilled trades workforce “grays out” there is often no one to come up next. Hiring women workers could help reduce the labor shortages. 

This got me thinking – which women in building inspire me? 

There’s 5. 

  1. Alicia Huey. 
  2. PWB of Utah – The House That She Built (ok its a group, but close enough)
  3. Christy Howell of CRH Design Build in OKC
  4. Emma
  5. L. – one of our Construct My Future campers

Alicia Huey, National Association of Home Builders 

Alicia is the First Vice Chairman of the Board for the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and will become Chairman in 2023. She is a custom homebuilder based in Birmingham, Alabama with over 30 years of experience. Alicia is one of the key reasons I joined Professional Women in Building (PWB) years ago when I first met her at an NAHB Board meeting. She has served as the national chair for PWB, as well as many other leadership positions with both PWB and NAHB.  While Alicia is not the first woman to serve as NAHB Chairman, she is one of the few. She is the real deal and represents the home building industry well. 

Professional Women in Building (PWB) of Utah –
The House That She Built

There is no better way to introduce this group of inspiring women than to quote it from their website:

The Utah Chapter of the NAHB Professional Women in Building designed and constructed a home that was showcased in the 2021 Utah Valley Parade of Homes. The goal of this home was to highlight and utilize women professionals, skilled tradeswomen, and women-owned companies for all stages of the project.

Our design team, comprised of skilled draftswomen, designers and engineers completed plans for a two-story home with approximately 3,200 square feet of living space including a finished basement. The eclectic, contemporary farmhouse style of The House That SHE Built represents the collaboration of the women in our industry and the varied talents and abilities of each.

Strength, courage, grit, determination, balance, color and resilience are all represented within this ambitious project and the women who have been involved in bringing it to life.

I traveled to Utah to see The House That She Built for myself. Wowza!! 

Natalie Miles of PWB of Utah and I did a podcast all about The House That She Built. There’s a few photos in the show notes as well. 

Christy Howell of CRH Design Build

For anyone that’s been following me this year, Christy is no stranger. We work together on projects in both of our businesses, we helped build Build My Future OKC together, and served on Professional Women in Building together. She also designed and directed our kitchen remodel!  Needless to say, we’ve become business buddies! 

Christy inspires with her passion for what she does and her dedication to her trade. She has worked in the design side of the home industry for years and decided a few years ago that she wanted to build homes. And not just any homes…ICF homes! For those of you who have not yet heard of ICF homes, these are amazing. ICF stands for Insulating Concrete Forms and these homes (and buildings) are constructed with big foam blocks filled with concrete for their exterior walls. ICF built structures are extremely airtight (goodbye dirt, pests and leaking energy!), resilient and durable. These structures will likely last for a century or more. ICF provides a great foundation (pardon the pun) for building a healthier, more comfortable home and that’s just what Christy is doing. 

Emma – A Carpentry Rock Star at 19

Emma was featured in a Facebook post on The Real Mike Rowe page and shared through the Iowa Skilled Trades Facebook page. This post really hit me and is well worth the few minutes to read it

Emma was interested in carpentry in high school and her dad introduced her to a small business owner running a residential carpentry shop. Working on a project evolved to working in the shop and now she manages the cabinet division and does the design, build, material ordering, painting, and preparation for shipping. Wow! At 19. 

Emma inspires me that she asked questions and just went for it. She learned that she could do it and is doing it and is sharing her story to inspire others. 

L. – Construct My Future Camper

L. was one of three young women (out of 45 campers) in our Construct My Future construction camp this spring. L. showed up. I mean really showed up. If there was a chance for her to do something, learn something – she did it. And did it with heart and determination. This young woman is in middle school. By now learning about some of the things she can do in the building industry, she may have chosen a career path. And she will excel. 

Our goal for our 2023 construction camp is to almost double enrollment and to have at least one crew composed of all young women with a young woman in the trades to be their Team Captain. I hope L. comes back this year to see what she has inspired. 

Personally, I thank these 5 women (ok, 1’s a group) for the inspiration they have given me and so many others. These are crucial steps to how we grow diversity in the building industry and get more people working in it. We need people to build, upgrade and maintain our communities. We start here. 

Resources and Referral links:

Construct My Future Camp

The House That She Built – PWB of Utah

The House That She Built Book 

Building Activity Book download

Build My Future OKC Trainings and Resources

2 Realities in the Building Industry – Women in Building and Labor Shortage

NAHB Careers in Construction Month Toolkit

National Association of Home Builders Student Chapters

How to Capitalize on the Skilled Trades Training Trend 

How to Encourage Women to Join the Construction Industry