What is NAWIC?
By: Morgan Wright
The National Association of Women in Construction is an organization founded in 1953 in Fort Worth, Texas. Beginning as an organization to support the small number of women in the construction industry, it has now grown to an organization comprised of over 115 chapters throughout the United States.
Every year the organization celebrates a week of women in the industry with WIC Week, or Women in Construction Week.
Over the week of March 6th – March 10th many of the women and men of Brin attended the events and in this post I will be highlighting their experience with the organization and about the week.
What is WIC Week?
WIC Week™, or Women in Construction Week™, celebrates and promotes the role of women in the construction industry. NAWIC held the first WIC Week in 1998 and it has grown and expanded each year since.
Many chapters across the United States hold local events to bring together people in the industry for networking and comradery.
In Minnesota, the events of last week included A Habitat for Humanity Build, a brewery tour at Finnegan’s brewery, and panels hosted by established construction companies within the area like Kraus-Anderson and JE Dunn.
Let’s ask Heartland Sales Manager, Jessica Hanson her experience over the week.
MW: Over this last week, what events did you attend, and what are the takeaways?
JH: I was able to catch a couple of events at the end of the week. Finnegan’s held a pub tour and networking event on Thursday. I was able to connect with a few friends from the Mpls/St. Paul chapter.
On Friday, there was a panel of women at the JE Dunn office. I met the CFO of JE Dunn. They all talked about their journey to where they are now as leaders of their companies. There were quite a few men in the audience. I have been welcomed by most men on the jobsite. Sometimes it’s more about lifting women up. We have to be in support of our sisters! I also was able to sit in (virtually) for the KA Find Your Fierce. Teresa Sande was the speaker and author of this book that talks about imposter syndrome and how we can overcome self-sabotage. It was extremely relatable.
MW: What events have you attended in the past during WIC week that you really enjoyed?
JH: My favorite is probably the habitat builds we have done. I wasn’t able to do one this year. It’s great working with the women of Brin and Heartland outside of the office and doing things we’ve never done! Heather Pavlas and I installed a glass block window a few years ago!
I had the opportunity to ask some of the other women in the organization their experience with NAWIC and WIC Week as well, let’s check in with Northwestern Glass Fab’s Project Estimating Manager, Heather Pavlas about NAWIC.
MW: What would you like to see in the future with our organization participating in WIC Week or NAWIC?
It would be wonderful to see Brin as a sponsor to NAWIC for a few reasons. 1) Glass and Glazing is not hugely recognized in the NAWIC organization-yet. 2) The support system women get with this group/chapter is amazing and empowering! We should be encouraging all women in all the Brin divisions to participate in NAWIC events for support, leadership, networking & confidence. Let’s get Glass & Glazing recognized!
And a similar sentiment from Northwestern Glass Fab’s Customer Service Manager, Kim Dodge:
KD: I would love to see Brin have a larger involvement across all companies. We have so many incredible women in glass with various experiences and talents that we should be proud to showcase!
Combined, these women have over 45 years of experience in the glazing industry, which is something absolutely showcase worthy, and the knowledge the Brin Organization holds is pretty phenomenal amongst the industry.
I was able to attend the brewery tour event, where we took a tour of woman owned Finnegan’s Brewery. We were able to take a tour, have dinner provided, talk with co-workers and other people in the industry, and participate in a raffle by Red Wing Shoes.
Pictured above: Brin men and women at the Finnegan’s event.
Why is WIC Week Important?
Organizations like NAWIC, and events like WIC week take the time to foster a sense of community within the industry that even in 2023 is not the most natural. As women in the industry, it is common that we are the only woman in a specific department, in our fabrication facilities, or in a leadership role. Glazing specifically has always had women in its roles, sometimes for longer than their male co-workers.
During the week as well, Northwestern Glass Fab’s Heather Pavlas was recognized in Glass Magazine for her 16 years in the industry. She shared some feedback about the experience of a woman in this industry, and it is a valuable read. To highlight;
Q: How have conditions changed since the pandemic for women in the industry?
A: The opportunity to work from home is way more acceptable. Before the pandemic, I never worked from home and I have two young kids and it was pretty nuts. That forced the shift to allow people to work from home and see how productive people could be.
HP: You can be extremely productive from home while still caring for your family. I think since the pandemic I’ve found a lot more support groups. I got a mentor in the industry. I found NAWIC, it’s a fantastic support group for women in construction. It’s amazing. With that, I feel from the pandemic it’s shown we can do work and be able to meld family and work more without it being looked down on.
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz also officially proclaimed the week of March 5th – March 11th, Women in Construction Week. With support of our officials I hope more involvement and more events will happen.
This week and organization inspires us to continue to grow that community with the other women in our organization, as well as the men.
Personally, I have been in the construction industry for 15 years, and in glazing for most of that time. I am thankful to begin to be involved with this organization to get to know my fellow co-workers better, and connect with others in the industry.
To learn more about NAWIC, please visit nawic.org.
- Personal interviews from Kim Dodge, Jessica Hanson, and Heather Pavlas