How to Attract and Retain Women in the Construction Industry

In this episode, we talk with Kristina McDonnell, a geotechnical project manager at KELLER in Cleveland, Ohio, about the importance of empowering women in the construction industry and advancing inclusivity. We also talk about her dedication to mentoring young engineers and STEM students, her involvement with NAWIC, and how it has helped her grow in her career.

***The video version of this episode can be viewed here.***

Engineering Quotes:

women in the construction industry

women in the construction industry

Here Are Some of the Questions We Ask Kristina:

  • How do you approach mentoring to make a lasting impact on mentees’ careers, and what specific actions do you take?
  • How does the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) advocate for women professionals in the construction industry, and how do you contribute to their mission?
  • What are your goals for promoting diversity and inclusion in the construction industry through NAWIC?
  • What actions can the construction industry take to welcome more people and make it more equitable for women professionals?
  • What outreach and education initiatives are you undertaking to change the negative narratives surrounding construction and attract more young people to the industry?
  • How can the construction industry change the negative narrative surrounding it and attract more young people, especially women?
  • What are the key challenges women still face in the construction industry today, and how can we work together to overcome them?
  • How can organizations and individuals create a more inclusive and supportive work environment for everyone in the construction industry?
  • What are your personal and professional goals in the geotechnical construction field, and how do you plan to continue making a difference in the industry and at NAWIC?

Here Are Some of the Key Points Discussed About How to Attract and Retain Women in the Construction Industry:

  • Mentoring students coming out of high school or college is rewarding because it is exciting to see them succeed and develop their skills in the construction industry.
  • The National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) is a professional organization that supports women in the construction industry through leadership training, professional development, and educational opportunities. It also works to make the industry a safer and more productive place for women to work.
  • NAWIC is committed to promoting diversity and inclusion in the construction industry. To achieve this goal, the organization aims to increase membership and engagement of women from diverse backgrounds, develop and deliver programs and resources that support women in the construction industry, advocate for policies and practices that create a more inclusive industry, and partner with other organizations and businesses to promote diversity and inclusion.
  • The construction industry is still largely male-dominated, but there are many things that companies can do to welcome more people and make it more equitable for women professionals. Two important actions are to provide women with the appropriate safety workwear and other tools they need to succeed and to invest in women’s professional development and training. Companies should also create a strong safety culture and promote a welcoming and inclusive work environment. By taking these steps, companies can attract and retain more women in the construction industry and create a more equitable and diverse workforce.
  • The construction industry needs to change the negative narrative that surrounds it and attract more young people, especially women. To achieve this, the industry should educate middle and high school students about the opportunities available, emphasize that construction is a skilled and rewarding career path for all, and educate parents and counselors about the industry so they can support their children’s career decisions.
  • The construction industry is facing a labor shortage, and women are a key untapped resource. Construction jobs are high-paying and essential, but the industry has a negative stereotype and is not welcoming to women. To attract and retain more women workers, the industry needs to educate women about the opportunities and benefits of a career in construction, change the negative stereotypes, and create a more inclusive work environment.
  • The construction industry faces many challenges in attracting and retaining women workers, but there are steps that companies and the industry as a whole can take to create a more inclusive and equitable workplace. These steps include providing women workers with the appropriate safety gear and training, supporting working caregivers, and challenging stereotypes about the industry.
  • Organizations in the construction industry can create a more inclusive and supportive work environment by articulating and upholding clear company values that promote diversity and inclusion, providing opportunities for continuous learning and development for all employees, creating a culture of mentorship and support, and offering flexible work arrangements and other benefits that support the needs of working caregivers.
  • Individuals who are passionate about creating a more inclusive and supportive work environment in the construction industry can make a difference by mentoring and supporting others and fostering awareness of the industry.

More Details in This Episode…

About the Guest: Kristina McDonnell

KellerKristina was born and raised in NE Ohio. She’s been married to her husband for seven years and they have two young daughters she adores. She graduated from The University of Akron with a B.S. in Geology Engineering. She began her career working in the Oil and Gas Industry for Chesapeake Energy as a geologist and geo-steering specialist. She then utilized her drilling and geology experience to transition to a field engineering position working for The Beaver Companies in their Geotechnical division. She has worked as a geotechnical project manager for the past eight years and has recently accepted a new position at KELLER in Cleveland, Ohio, as a geotechnical project manager.

Kristina is a team leader who also enjoys mentoring young engineers and high school / STEM students. She is the NAWIC’s Akron Chapter President for 2023-2024. She was instrumental in bringing life back to the chapter by producing, organizing, and emceeing a Construction Safety Workwear Fashion Show this past summer. This has helped strengthen our organization, increase our memberships, and raise money for our professional development and scholarship program.

About the Host: Jared M. Green, P.E., D.GE, F.ASCE

Geotechnical EngineeringJared, originally from southwest Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, graduated from Syracuse University’s College of Engineering in 2001 with a B.S. in Civil Engineering. He later went on to attain his M.S. in Civil Engineering (Geotechnical Focus) from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Campaign, in 2002. In 2003, he began working in the New York City office of Langan. He has since become a Principal / Vice President and is one of the owners of this international land development engineering consulting firm. After 15 years at Langan, Jared moved to the Philadelphia office and is one of the geotechnical practice leaders in that office.

Jared is a consultant and team leader who also enjoys mentoring young engineers and first-generation college students. He has been instrumental in increasing the number of pre-college students who are interested in STEAM majors and fields. He strives to make complex engineering topics relatable and understandable to people new to the field and to people who are completely unfamiliar with engineering. Jared and his family currently reside in Flemington, New Jersey. He and his wife have three energetic, inquisitive, and awesome children. You can connect with Jared here.


STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics
National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC)
Construction Safety, Workwear Fashion Show
Deep Foundations Institute (DFI)
Connect with Kristina McDonnell on LinkedIn

This Episode Is Brought to You By:


menardMenard USA is a specialty ground improvement contractor that works nationally providing design-build ground improvement solutions at sites with problematic soils. Menard works closely with civil, structural, and geotechnical engineers to minimize foundation costs for a wide range of soil conditions, structure types, and loading conditions. To learn more about Menard USA, or for help on your next project, please visit


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Please leave your comments or questions in the section below on how to attract and retain women in the construction industry.

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To your success,

Jared M. Green, P.E., D.GE, F.ASCE
Host of The Geotechnical Engineering Podcast

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