Women In Construction

Women in Construction

Growing the Role of Women in the Industry

At Clayco, our culture is focused on building more than structures. We believe in building communities. One of the communities we are excited to support and help grow is the community of women within our industry. From providing equal opportunity for all, to providing opportunities and mentorship for women-owned business, we are always excited to see our field become more diverse and inclusive.

Women in Clayco

For WIC Week, we sent out a questionnaire to some of the women in our enterprise hoping they would share their experiences with us as a way to spotlight their roles and successes. We also hope their responses will offer some insight to women curious about entering the industry.

Lourdes Ramirez

Senior Assistant Superintendent, Clayco
  • How long have you been in the industry?
    4 1/2 years
  • How did you start your career in design/construction/real estate?
    I started my career in construction while studying at Iowa State University. I obtained my first internship with Clayco and I was shipped 17 hours away from my hometown Des Moines, IA. I was fortunate enough to return for a second internship with Clayco in St. Louis, MO and I was eventually was hired on full time once I graduated.
  • What advice do you have for other women in the industry?
    I would advise other women in construction to find a mentor or mentors that they can learn from. Mentorship has played a great impact within my career and I have learned that in order to get the most out of any situation, you must be willing to learn from anyone, regardless of their gender.
  • What has been the biggest challenge you have faced?
    Not receiving the same level of respect or lack of acknowledgment out in the field. This tends to happen more often with older generations in the trades.
  • What are you involved in outside of work? Hobbies? Charities?
    One of my favorite hobbies includes going to St. Louis Blues or Cardinal games.
  • Fun Fact about you?
    I love to travel. I recently got back from Mexico and Jamaica before that.

Amy Luchun

Principal, LJC
  • How long have you been in the industry?
    24 years
  • How did you start your career in design/construction/real estate?
    I started at a traditional Architecture firm in St. Louis. After realizing that it took 3 years of designing and re-designing without seeing a building get built, I realized that I wanted to work in a different way.
  • What advice do you have for other women in the industry?
    Don’t be afraid to ask questions and always take the opportunities given as they may not come around again.
  • What has been the biggest challenge you have faced?
    Being a great mother and wife at home while also striving to be a strong mentor and teacher in the industry.
  • What are you involved in outside of work? Hobbies? Charities?
    I’m a competitive person by nature so I love to watch my kids play sports on the weekends and watch them improve throughout the season. Last year I got sick of sitting on the bench, so I challenged myself to compete in a minimum 3 running events in St. Louis. I not only achieved my goal but also improved my time at every event while still enjoying the event and having fun.
  • Fun Fact about you?
    I wanted to become an architect because I grew up watching Green Acres and it drove me crazy that they lived with holes in their house. Silly right?

Tika Schmidt

Associate, Real Estate Operations, CRG
  • How long have you been in the industry?
    22 years (with Clayco a total of 9 years. (2007-2010) (2014-present)
  • How did you start your career in design/construction/real estate?
    I began my career with The Jones Company (Residential Home Builder)
  • What advice do you have for other women in the industry?
    To keep pushing yourself and challenging yourself on a daily basis. Never settle and continue to strive to gain more knowledge about the industry. If you are in a certain position, try to learn roles of other people and always ask questions and learn from other people’s experience in order to make yourself more valuable to your company.
  • What has been the biggest challenge you have faced?
    Keeping up with a full time career when I was a single mom of two small children.
  • What are you involved in outside of work? Hobbies? Charities?
    I serve as a director on the board of NAWIC Chapter 38, I started a dog treat company called Treats to Woof About 3 years ago as a side gig and added another side gig called Jewelry by Tika.
  • Fun Fact about you?
    I was adopted from India when I was two and raised in a blonde-haired, blue-eyed, German family.

Shannon Kendall

Creative and Proposal Manager, Clayco
  • How long have you been in the industry?
    6 years
  • How did you start your career in design/construction/real estate?
    It’s been an interesting journey… I got my Bachelor’s in Architecture because I’ve always been fascinated by the built world. After school, I worked for a residential interior designer and when she decided to take some time off, I found myself in an executive assistant position at Clayco. They just happened to place me close to the marketing department. I fell in love with anything and everything Clayco Marketing and about 2 years after I started as an assistant, they adopted me!
  • What advice do you have for other women in the industry?
    Be flexible. The industry is constantly changing and you have to be ready and willing to adapt.
  • What has been the biggest challenge you have faced?
    The biggest challenge for me personally was finding my niche. I knew how passionate I was about architecture and design, but I wasn’t quite fulfilled in my work. My current role is constantly evolving and always throwing something new my way – I am constantly learning and that is where I thrive.
  • What are you involved in outside of work? Hobbies? Charities?
    Outside of work I love going to yoga, camping/floating/hiking, but most of all I love concerts and music festivals.
  • Fun Fact about you?
    I grew up right down the street from Clayco and as a kid we’d pass this building all the time. I will never forget going by at night, seeing the Clayco sign all lit up and thinking, “Wouldn’t it be cool to work there someday?”

Lindsay Webb

Designer, LJC
  • How long have you been in the industry?
    7 years
  • How did you start your career in design/construction/real estate?
    In college I worked at a women-owned lighting design firm.
  • What advice do you have for other women in the industry?
    Seek out others, ask questions, listen, learn. Don’t get worn down.
  • What has been the biggest challenge you have faced?
    Being taken seriously.
  • What are you involved in outside of work? Hobbies? Charities?
    I love being outside, doing puzzles, and running with my dog. Outside of work, I enjoy meeting with students and understanding how architectural curriculums are evolving.
  • Fun Fact about you?
    I am an Australian dual-citizen.

Josie Peacock

Director of Capital Markets, CRG
  • How long have you been in the industry?
    7.5 years
  • How did you start your career in design/construction/real estate?
    I’m one of those rare people who knew they wanted to go into commercial real estate in college. Luckily, Indiana University has a great finance real estate major, which gave me a great head start.
  • What advice do you have for other women in the industry?
    Lean on each other! We’ve come a long way, but we still have a ways to go when it comes to gender equality. While I love my male coworkers, there are some things that they’ve never experienced and thus don’t understand. I’ve been lucky to have senior women in the industry take me under their wings over the years and I hope to do the same as I progress in my career.
  • What has been the biggest challenge you have faced?
    The biggest challenge isn’t getting a seat at the table. It’s proving that you’re meant to be there. While I think gender diversity initiatives are great (and a necessary step), they also put into some minds that you might just be there “to check a box,” and that stinks! While it shouldn’t have to be something you’re fighting, I think it’s something every woman in the industry has in the back of her mind.
  • What are you involved in outside of work? Hobbies? Charities?
    I’m on the steering committee for the Greater Chicago Food Depository, and I also on the Illumination Committee, which raises money for The Clayco Foundation. Outside of all of that, I’m a huge nerd and love crossword puzzles and reading. (I’m going for 45 books this year!)
  • Fun Fact about you?
    I’m on the back (as a model) of 2 board games.

Madeline Smith

Sustainable Development Manager, Clayco
  • How long have you been in the industry?
    5.5 years
  • How did you start your career in design/construction/real estate?
    Started my career as an intern with Clayco supporting internal sustainable initiatives.
  • What advice do you have for other women in the industry?
    Support one another!
  • What has been the biggest challenge you have faced?
    First perception on site – being confident and outgoing helps alleviate that quickly.
  • What are you involved in outside of work? Hobbies? Charities?
    I enjoy hiking, yoga and spending time with the pets in my family [Louis, Little, Pink, Milly]. I support the Missouri APA and am a trained dog walker.
  • Fun Fact about you?
    French was one of my two majors in college. I interned at the Richmond French Film Festival, the largest in the United States.

Shelby Kroeger

Associate Principal, LJC
  • How long have you been in the industry?
    20 years
  • How did you start your career in design/construction/real estate?
    It was a non-linear career path. I was a website programmer and lost my job days before Thanksgiving as a result of the dot com crash in 2000. I was struggling to land a new job and reached out to a few local temp agencies. They called and said, we’ve got a perfect position at a creative firm. Without asking too many questions, I quickly accepted, and they said, the firm is called Gensler, and the rest is history.
  • What advice do you have for other women in the industry?
    Never wait around for the perfect job to appear; instead, tailor your role by building on your skills, interests, and what you enjoy doing, and the rest will sort itself out.
  • What has been the biggest challenge you have faced?
    My biggest challenge is balancing between differing design opinions and marketing needs for multiple markets and sectors while working within one brand to deliver distinctive and necessary company marketing deliverables daily.
  • What are you involved in outside of work? Hobbies? Charities?
    Outside of work, I enjoy taking photos—images of still life, portraits, landscapes. Instagram is my jam. I even advance my portrait skills by photographing friends and their families for their annual holiday cards. Also, In the summer you’ll find me in the garden. I’ve been nurturing my tiny shade garden for the last three years and have been steadfast in trying to grow a blooming hydrangea. Summer of 2019, I was finally successful.
  • Fun Fact about you?
    I love to drive, and if I ever won the lottery, I would become a formula one driver.

Alba Colavitti

Senior Design Associate, CRG
  • How long have you been in the industry?
    In May, it will be my 25th year.
  • How did you start your career in design/construction/real estate?
    I was fortune enough to have an internship with one of the largest construction companies in Mexico (Garza Ponce Group). So I’ve literally been doing this work since 1993 when my internship started.
  • What advice do you have for other women in the industry?
    Step out of your comfort zone. You will prevail. And always read, because knowledge is power!
  • What has been the biggest challenge you have faced?
    Communication. Speaking a second language has not easy, but I believe I had prevailed. I had to relearn how to do it all over again. The most valuable part of architecture is that all communication is based on drawings, and that part was a slam dunk. I absolutely love my job, and that’s why I believe even though I had this huge challenge I had been able to overcome it. I am still working on it though. Communication in general is very difficult skill to master. So, I am constantly trying to improve myself by stepping out my comfort zone.
  • What are you involved in outside of work? Hobbies? Charities?
    My absolutely favorite thing outside of work is volunteer doing the things I am passionate about, like the performing arts, girls in sports and cancer research. I am past president of the Itasca Music Boosters. I am chair member for the Lake Park High School Jazz Band. I am a volunteer for Girls in the Game, and I’ve helped raise money for St. Jude’s.
  • Fun Fact about you?
    I love the color teal! Growing up, my clothes were color coded to tell them apart from my sisters! It took me 48 years to stop being afraid of dogs!

Stephanie Lloyd

Project Superintendent, Clayco
  • How long have you been in the industry?
    21 years
  • How did you start your career in design/construction/real estate?
    Started working as a laborer for a residential home builder.
  • What advice do you have for other women in the industry?
    Work hard, show ambition and don’t second guess yourself.
  • What has been the biggest challenge you have faced?
    Being a woman in this industry can be challenging. I’ve experienced a lot of people assuming my background is strictly from schooling, therefore not having any experience or understanding of construction, when in fact most of my background came from working as a laborer for many years and performing physical work.
  • What are you involved in outside of work? Hobbies? Charities?
    My hobbies are reading, working out and boxing.
  • Fun Fact about you?
    I’m a huge animal lover! I love my doggies!

Sarah Doriani

Senior Associate, LJC
  • How long have you been in the industry?
    14 years
  • How did you start your career in design/construction/real estate?
    In 4th grade I decided that I’d be an interior designer when I grew up. As I shared this pursuit with anyone who would listen, those in the industry spoke up and made themselves available to ask questions, facilitate firm tours, connect to job shadows, and assign me grunt work to get a peek into the design world.
  • What advice do you have for other women in the industry?
    Speak up! Say yes to opportunities, don’t wait for the ideal experience to come to you. It takes a lot of time to build a broad range of skills, so start wherever you are. Let people know that you want to participate.
  • What has been the biggest challenge you have faced?
    People are quick to ask, “what’s your specialty?” It’s been important to me to be well rounded with experience in lots of different types of projects, rather than jumping into one field. Every client is the expert in a unique field. I feel it is an incredible honor to get to know their world before designing a space for them.
  • What are you involved in outside of work? Hobbies? Charities?
    I love to draw. Illustrating a simple moment or amusing idea is a great source of personal energy and balance. I used to keep my work tasks and drawing practice separate (with the notion that the computer was the tool for work). Now I know that my first round of ideas come from a hand and pen connection. The best ways to flush out a design is to sketch first, the computer comes later.
  • Fun Fact about you?
    I can clap….. to a tune.

Jennifer E. Nichols

Senior Vice President & General Counsel, CRG
  • How long have you been in the industry?
    Almost 15 years!
  • How did you start your career in design/construction/real estate?
    I knew from the time I was a very young child that I wanted to be an attorney. Real Estate came naturally to me after realizing that I preferred a more cooperative practice where parties on both sides of the transaction had the same end goal.
  • What advice do you have for other women in the industry?
    Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t rise in the profession. You may be surrounded by male counterparts, but leverage their knowledge and support to carve a path of your own; and if you have access to women who have walked the road you’re walking, lean on them to help you through it.
  • What has been the biggest challenge you have faced?
    The biggest issue in my career that I’ve faced as a woman is having my time undervalued. As a young associate, it felt as though my time didn’t matter as much since I didn’t have children at home. There was an unspoken hierarchy that I had to overcome.  My best advice is to show up for yourself on a daily basis and don’t let anyone tell you how much your time is worth. Your life, your hobbies, your interests, your free time all matters, regardless of what is or isn’t going on at home.
  • What are you involved in outside of work? Hobbies? Charities?
    I’m still incredibly involved in Michigan State University’s chapter of Kappa Alpha Theta, and I enjoy seeing life through the eyes of the current active members. I love working out with my Peloton bike and treadmill. I’m committed to furthering opportunities for equality through charities such as the ACLU and Brown Hope.
  • Fun Fact about you?
    I love wine, and I’m always open to share a glass, particularly with real estate women!

Dirce Milchorena

Construction Administrator, Clayco
  • How long have you been in the industry?
    Over 16 years
  • How did you start your career in design/construction/real estate?
    My mom got me to intern with an Engineering and Construction company in Illinois when I was in High School. I really liked the networking and hands-on experience I had during my internship. Therefore, I decided to pursue an open position in the Document Control department and I have been traveling to different power plants and nuclear plants to work in Records Management and support Project Engineering ever since.
  • What advice do you have for other women in the industry?
    Back when I started working in construction and engineering I felt awkward because of the male/female ratio. Throughout the years, I have gained trust from my peers and I became valuable in the companies I have worked for. I would hope other women get inspired by experiences like mine and see that you can be confident and be proud in this field.
  • What has been the biggest challenge you have faced?
    I have felt intimidated by my project managers because of how they would treat me and I wondered if they would judge me right away, but a lot of my peers and managers respected me because of my knowledge and that’s why I have been working on this industry for so long.
  • What are you involved in outside of work? Hobbies? Charities?
    Currently, I am not formally doing anything for the community, but I used to volunteer at an animal shelter in South Carolina. I used to volunteer Saturdays and Sundays to come in and spend time with the kittens to make sure they had food, water and someone to play with for a couple of hours. I also like to work out when I have the time. A few weeks ago, I finished a cycle bar 30-day challenge, I didn’t do it for 30 days straight, but I went for it and I loved it. I will be signed up for another set soon.
  • Fun Fact about you?
    I love cooking. Every day I look forward to coming home and cooking dinner for my family. Also, I have taken a few classes to learn different foods. My fiancé and I are currently on the “keto” diet so we have been trying new recipes.

Megan Wilker

Associate, LJC
  • How long have you been in the industry?
    10+ years
  • How did you start your career in design/construction/real estate?
    I took an interest in design and architecture when I was in 5th grade. My friend’s dad was an architect and at the time, he was practicing out of his basement. I found myself often wondering to his ‘studio’ and going through his drawings and tools – SHHHH… I don’t think he knows that! I went to school for architecture. There, I was exposed to landscape architecture, which I had never heard of before. It all clicked for me and I made the switch to landscape architecture and never looked back!
  • What advice do you have for other women in the industry?
    1. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. It sounds so cliché but this has been the best tool for me. You will find that everyone is always willing to help you. Asking questions and knowing answers will build your confidence when speaking with consultants and contractors. 2. Get field experience. Designing on paper is very different than seeing how materials are constructed.
  • What has been the biggest challenge you have faced?
    The biggest challenge for me has been being a young woman on a construction site. For a while I was intimidated on a job site by all the seasoned men. I felt like they looked at me like I was a young girl who didn’t know anything. Overtime and with experience I have been able to overcome this challenge by speaking up and asking questions. Now, I always look forward to building relationships with the on-site contractors and learning as much as I can, while providing on-the-spot problem solving solutions that can’t be solved on paper.
  • What are you involved in outside of work? Hobbies? Charities?
    I have the sweetest 2 year old son, Mason. It is a full-time job keeping up with him. I am heavily involved with my family and see them every weekend. Sports have always been a passion of mine – playing and spectating – Go Blues, Cardinals, Kstate and Colts!
  • Fun Fact about you?
    I was offered several college scholarships to play softball – I was a pitcher, third baseman and #5 hitter.

Christy Steward

Senior Construction Administrator, Concrete Strategies
  • How long have you been in the industry?
    16 years
  • How did you start your career in design/construction/real estate?
    I worked at a glass block company.
  • What advice do you have for other women in the industry?
    Always ask questions.
  • What has been the biggest challenge you have faced?
    Making sure my voice is heard. Being taken seriously.
  • What are you involved in outside of work? Hobbies? Charities?
    I have volunteered at The Salvation Army and Stray Rescue. I like reading books.
  • Fun Fact about you?
    I enjoy building LEGO sets with my daughter.

Linda Baides

Procurement Administrator, Clayco
  • How long have you been in the industry?
    7 years
  • How did you start your career in design/construction/real estate?
    I started out in the IT department handling ways to save and manage mobility cost thru the company. I then began assisting everyone with mobile devices and handling all new hire on-boarding. I now have moved on to CDC, where I procure several scopes of work to the Clayco jobsites amongst other roles.
  • What advice do you have for other women in the industry?
    Support one another, cheer on your peers! Be an advocate for each other!
  • What has been the biggest challenge you have faced?
    Biggest challenges I have faced have been working for a male dominated department as well as finding balance between being a mother and wife at home while still striving to succeed in my department. Another challenge has been coming from no construction background and learning it as I go, I am thankful to have great mentors willing to teach at Clayco.
  • What are you involved in outside of work? Hobbies? Charities?
    I enjoy walks around the park, and chasing after my boy and soon a little girl as well.
  • Fun Fact about you?
    I am fluent in English & Spanish. I also took 4 years of French in High School.

Rachel Walter

Senior Associate, LJC
  • How long have you been in the industry?
    19 years
  • How did you start your career in design/construction/real estate?
    When I was a kid my parents were considering renovating an old farmhouse, and they would come home with loads of home plan magazines. I tried building so many models from these out of grid paper – which didn’t work very well but I was 8! – and my love affair with the industry began. Post grad school I chose to work at a small architectural firm in the Chicago suburbs where I gained a lot of experience on multiple markets quickly.
  • What advice do you have for other women in the industry?
    Lift each other up! Opportunity isn’t based on a scarcity model, we can all help improve each other’s lives and careers.
  • What has been the biggest challenge you have faced?
    Early in my career I was often the only woman in the room, and also the youngest.  Being taken seriously was difficult at first.  But when your words carry meaning and confidence you’ll be heard.
  • What are you involved in outside of work? Hobbies? Charities?
    I love to read and knit. I have a knitting project in almost every room in the house.
  • Fun Fact about you?
    I love to drive fast cars!  I took a defensive driving class where I got to drive both a Porsche 718 Cayman and a 911 Carrera. To say it was incredible was an understatement.

Other Clayco Initiatives

Clayco Rising

Clayco has built the most comprehensive diversity and inclusion program in the industry – Clayco Rising. It is designed to create meaningful opportunity for our employees, our minority and women-owned business partners and people within the communities we serve. Together, we are breaking through barriers of income, race, sexual orientation and gender. We will rise above to bring positive change within our industry by building a diverse, respectful and safe workplace for all.

ClaycoNOW

Empowering women both personally and professionally.

Our mission is to increase female leadership in the design, construction and real estate development industry. We connect, enable, and engage with women and communities across all areas of the industry to develop, impact and transform the culture from the inside out by investing in women.

Our guiding goals are to provide an environment that creates the opportunity for real connections that empower women both personally and professionally, build awareness and break down gender bias, and have a measurable impact on our projects, competitors, partners, clients, employees and communities.

Interested in a Career in Construction?

Whether you are a woman in college interested in an internship, in the craft workforce looking for a new opportunity, or in the industry seeking a career change, Clayco is always looking for the best and the brightest to join our team.

For more information on our hiring process or our open positions, please visit our Clayco Careers page.