Women starting careers in the construction industry has been on a steady incline the past ten years. In fact, in recent years, the year-over-year growth of women in the industry has outpaced the overall industry growth by over 400% according to a study by Institute for Women’s Policy Research. That said, women are still very much underrepresented in the industry.

This past year Triax has had the opportunity to work with Casey Sullivan at AECOM Tishman on a construction project in New Orleans. During this time, she has been promoted from Project Engineer to Assistant Project Manager. She took some time this week to talk with us about her decisions to enter the construction industry and how she’s grown during that time.

What got you into the construction industry?

Sullivan: The reason I got into the construction industry is actually due to a season-ending neck injury during basketball season my sophomore year of college. I wasn’t sure if I would ever return to play basketball again. My lifelong dream to play pro basketball overseas was then shattered. I was unsure of the path to take and it was my parents who encouraged me to embark on a new journey. The construction industry seemed like a great opportunity – it is one in which my father and brother have built their careers and I have a similar mindset to them both. I started my first internship that summer on a 30-story building in Boston, MA and loved it. I knew right then that even if my basketball dreams were no longer in reach, I had something else that I loved and excelled at just as much.

Who has been your biggest champion?

Sullivan: My mom is my champion. This woman has been there for me through thick and thin. She is my rock – she is the strongest person I have ever known. She has pulled me up from every problem, every injury, and has given me everything I needed and more to succeed in all aspects of life.  She has encouraged me to take steps to fulfill my dreams and to never quit when I’m feeling down because there is always a way to surpass the situation. I am beyond lucky to have a mother like her who really cares for her children and will literally give you the clothes off of her back to help you in any way possible. I aspire to be like her.

What challenges do you face being a woman in the industry?

Sullivan: In my own personal experience, I feel the challenges of being a woman in the construction industry have diminished over the years. My first internship only had two women on the job site. On my current jobsite in New Orleans I have a team comprised of over 15 women in all job functions. A bigger challenge is the fact I am young and still growing into my role overseeing a team who looks to me for guidance.

What advice would you give to women wanting to break into the construction industry?

Sullivan: Stay true to who you are, be yourself, and go into this industry with confidence. You are the only one that will hold yourself back.