Women in Construction (WIC), co-founded in 2006 by Barbara Werther, Samek, Werther & Mills, LLC., and Barbara Wagner, Clark Construction Group, LLC., now operates on both the east and west coasts. In 2017, the East Coast group became Women in Construction, Inc. (WIC), a 501(c)(6) nonprofit organization.
WIC hosts its annual conference in October and is gearing up for its 15-year E.P.I.C. (Extraordinary Partners In Construction) anniversary event on Oct. 22 at the Marriott Marquis in Washington, D.C. Although the conference was initially DC-centric, the attendance has expanded to include most of the East Coast and mid-Atlantic areas, with panelists and guests from Boston, Nashville and New Orleans. Proceeds raised at the conference have been donated to mission-aligned groups including the ACE DC Mentor Program and Grace Gold Memorial Scholarship Fund to fund college scholarships for students interested in pursuing a career in architecture, construction or engineering and supporting Hard Hatted Woman, a documentary about women breaking down gender barriers in blue-collar construction. WIC has proudly donated over $25,000 to ACE DC alone.
The conference was founded as a way to give back and to impart lessons and wisdom to those early in their construction-related careers. The goal was to bring people together to discuss important construction-related topics as well as some life-specific matters. WIC’s mission to support and advance the careers of women in the build industry has evolved to “take the whole person into account when planning the agenda and identifying topics,” said Gayathri Shetty, senior manager at Exponent and 2021 WIC programming co-chair. The organization sends surveys to all conference registrants asking what topics they would like to see the following year, as a way to ensure the audience feels connected. “Our board members represent varied sectors of the construction industry, so we are conscious of current trends and developments in the industry,” explained Shetty.
However, what distinguishes this group from many others is the genuine support and friendship among the stakeholders, even those who may be considered competitors. “WIC doesn’t just feel like a family, we are a family,” shared Rivka Bier, tax managing director at BDO and WIC treasurer.
In addition to the annual conference, WIC hosts several smaller events each year, led by the Stewardship Committee. These more intimate gatherings allow conference attendees a chance to network and build relationships in groups of 50 or less. Each March, the Stewardship Committee organizes an in-person or virtual event in celebration of Women’s History Month. In 2020, prior to the pandemic, WIC hosted a luncheon and fishbowl-format program in Chevy Chase, Md.
The leadership, programming and networking aspects of the conference are integral to today’s female construction professional. “By maintaining a moderate cost of registration, we’re more affordable than most conferences. We work hard to ensure accessibility for all,” shared Lisa Mingoia, corporate counsel at Skanska USA Building and WIC vice president.
Submitted by Women in Construction