McCarthy Celebrates Women in Construction

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From McCarthy Building Companies’ Internal Newsletter

Building a large, complex hospital project requires a large, complex team of people with varied experiences, talents and backgrounds. At McCarthy, it’s the differences that bring people together, which is certainly evident on the BJC Campus Renewal Project. According to McCarthy, having a diverse and inclusive workforce not only enables the company to recruit and retain the most qualified workforce, but also to provide the best solutions for clients.

During national Women in Construction Week, March 6 – 12, McCarthy points to a team of women working together on the design-build team for construction of the new 16-story inpatient hospital tower at Barnes-Jewish Hospital on Kingshighway at Barnes-Jewish Hospital Plaza in St. Louis.  The new inpatient tower is an important component of BJC’s Campus Renewal, a long-term vision to transform the Washington University Medical Campus (WUMC) through new construction and renovations with an overall focus on improving the patient and family experience at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and St. Louis Children’s Hospital.

What stands out most about this team of women is the diversity of their roles: Project Administrator, Project Engineer, VDC Manager, Carpenter Foreman and Office Manager.

The unique backgrounds, interests and skills of each team member are quite impressive. But the real magic happens when these five women are in a room together and start talking about their craft and attracting more women to it.

In addition to their own personal goals and career ambitions, these five women ambitiously serve as ambassadors and advocates for increasing the ranks of women in construction. Backed by the “McCarthy Partnership for Women,” a nationwide group that supports and promotes women entering the construction field, they have formed their own project-specific group called “Women Building BJC.” 

As founders of Women Building BJC, they plan to implement a program centered on the Campus Renewal Project that will create a beacon for all construction women – both trade and professional – to collaborate with, encourage and empower one another.

The founding members include:

  • Beth Barton,  a carpenter foreman,  has worked with McCarthy for just over three years. “I’ve always liked working with my hands,” said Beth, who sees her rare position as an opportunity to show young women that construction can be a terrific, rewarding career option. As an active member of the local Missouri Women in Trades (MOWIT) organization, she’s a great advocate for increasing women in the construction industry. Beth jumped at the chance to be involved in launching the Women Building BJC initiative and is looking forward to creating an inclusive project site that not only supports women in the trades, but also propels them to advance in their careers.
  • Danielle Emert,  the BJC project office manager, joined McCarthy just eight months ago after being  co-owner of a family-owner equipment repair business. “It’s fantastic how much McCarthy feels like a family, especially coming from working with my actual family. I love that the project team is such a tight-knit group,” she said. Her spirit of ownership and infectious attitude have energized everyone in  McCarthy’s jobsite trailers.
  • Taylor Patton had been a union laborer while pursuing her master’s degree when she decided to interview with McCarthy for a project administrator position. “I’ve always loved construction and wanted to learn it from the ground up,” she said. While her ultimate aspiration is to manage whole projects someday, as the project administrator, she’s gaining valuable experience building her understanding of the financial side of the construction business. “For me, the path to success means learning all aspects of the business,” she said, “and I’m thankful that McCarthy has given me the opportunity to do exactly that.”
  • Kara Lewandowski has worked in construction for 15 years. She began as a project engineer working on heavy civil/highway work, and she’s also managed work as a MEP superintendent and assistant project manager. What really grabbed her attention was the emergence of 3D coordination and the use of building modeling information (BIM) to streamline and improve coordination efforts on projects.  She’s currently a Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) manager and has been working on the Campus Renewal Project for just over a year. “I have been fortunate to fill many different roles on projects throughout my career, and I want to break down the myth that there are no roles for women in construction,” she said. “Our industry needs great people, regardless of gender, race, age or any other characteristics. Women can and do perform many roles on a project as evidenced by the wide range of talents being shown by my women partners here at the BJC project site.”
  • Chelsea Borders worked as an intern for McCarthy for three years before being hired full-time in June  2021 and joining the BJC Campus Renewal Project team. A project engineer, she was the first in her position on the project. “Coming early to the project team has given me exposure to the design-build process and allowed me to have input on the set-up of the project,” said Chelsea, who is passionate about construction and is eager to tackle the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. “I was excited to learn that while women make up less than five percent of the construction workforce nationally, our project team is more than 30 percent women.”

The Women Building BJC may just be getting started, but this talented quintet is ready to set a high bar in establishing a supportive, inclusive work environment. They are dedicated to providing resources and support to other women working on this project.

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