A Look Into the Women of Gray
In honor of Women’s History Month and The National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC)’s Women in Construction (WIC) Week, we spoke with some of the women at Gray about what it means to be a woman in construction, advice they have for other women considering the industry, and how Gray helps champion their success.
A career in construction is both rewarding and challenging; each day, construction workers serve the modern world to bring new opportunities, jobs, and structures to life. Women in construction–a historically underrepresented demographic–are claiming their space in the industry, trail-blazing through adversities and paving the way for future generations.
In 2022, according to a study found by the Washington Post, women in construction were at an all-time-high of 14%. And thankfully, the demand for a growing construction workforce isn’t slowing down. Across Gray, nearly 20% of our team members dedicated to making projects a success for our customers are women. 32% of women are in management/executive roles, and 21% of women were promoted in 2022.
The theme for the 25th year of Women in Construction Week is ‘Many Paths, One Mission,’ which celebrates the different journeys women have taken toward the same goal: strengthening and amplifying the success of women in the construction industry.
Gray is leading the charge to do just that. The company’s Groundbreaking Women’s group, for example, is one of the many avenues. Through a focus on professional development, networking, and philanthropy, this internal, women- and team member-led organization is committed to driving change and building future leaders.
We sat down with women across Gray to learn more about their experiences, Gray’s commitment to women, and what advice they have for the future generation of female leaders.
How long have you been with Gray?
Courtney Rapson, Assistant Site Manager – “I have been an intern with Gray since 2017 and began working full time in May 2019.”
Courtney O’Brien, Site Safety Manager – “I’ve been with Gray since November 2021.”
Kellie Christensen, Chief Information Officer – “A year and a half.”
Alexis Tabor, Assistant Site Manager – “I’ve been with Gray since June of 2021.”
Dee Tidwell, Safety Specialist – “Since August 2018.”
Please provide a brief description of your current role and day-to-day tasks.
O’Brien – “In my former role as site safety technician, I provided site safety orientations to all contractors who arrived on site. I also participated in the daily planning for various scopes of work, held site-wide safety meetings, performed audits, and handled any issues or tasks that arose throughout the day. In my new role as site safety manager, I assist in all these former tasks, while also providing trainings and helping grow Gray’s overall safety culture.”
Christensen – “As chief information officer, my job is to make sure we’re making investments in technology for Gray that are right for the business and our team members, while being secure and financially responsible. I love the variety in my job and how many areas of the business that it touches. No two days are the same.”
Tabor – “As an assistant site manager, my day-to-day tasks consist of overseeing trades onsite, setting up pre-construction meetings, reviewing drawings, RFI’s, and submittals, completing audits, communicating with the customer, and above all putting safety and quality of life first.”
Tidwell – “In my current role as safety specialist, I conduct safety reviews, assist with proposal efforts, track safety data and trends, participate in the interview process for the safety department, manage incident reports, and support all safety team members.”
What is the best advice you have for women who are considering working in the construction industry?
Rapson – “My best advice would be to stay confident in your abilities and don’t ever doubt yourself. There will be times you are overlooked, but remember that every obstacle you face working in a male– dominated field is paving the way for the next female who has the courage to follow in your footsteps.”
O’Brien – “Don’t feel intimidated or like you don’t belong when you’re in a room full of people, even though we are the minority on site most of the time. It can be scary to speak up, but we are just as smart and capable as any other person present and have an equal obligation to achieve the goals set. Be confident in your abilities and ask questions when you’re not.”
Christensen – “From my experience at Gray, I’ve found the industry to be very people-centric and team member friendly. This is important for anyone, but especially for women who want to balance a career and family. Additionally, there is so much opportunity to have significant career growth opportunities in construction. The industry needs so many people in a wide variety of roles.”
Tabor – “The best advice I have for women considering working in the construction industry is DO IT! Don’t ever think that because it is a male– dominant field you won’t succeed. As females, we have just as much room to grow and succeed in construction as men.”
Tidwell – “Don’t be afraid to jump in! Boots on the ground experience was invaluable when I made the transition into this industry.”
What has your experience been like working at Gray as a woman in construction?
Rapson – “As a young female, I will admit I was a bit nervous when I made the decision to work in the field. Although it took some time to gain trust and respect on site, I had the support from my Gray team members every step of the way. In my time here, I have not only grown as a team member and leader, but also as a woman in finding my sense of independence and confidence.”
O’Brien – “I’ve been more than happy during my first year at Gray. I’ve had the opportunity to work with and learn from some of the best people in the industry, and to grow my skillset and knowledge not only in safety, but also in the building processes. Gray truly stands behind their core values and that’s extremely rare to find. We treat others the way we want to be treated, where everyone is welcomed and respected. That is a true reflection of how women are treated on Gray projects and in the office.”
Christensen – “The culture is amazing– the best I’ve ever experienced in my career. The care that Gray has for their people and the communities around them is very genuine and permeates through all levels of the company. I can’t say enough about how much I appreciate the warmth and support that everyone has shown me along the way as I’ve learned a new company and a new industry. It’s also wonderful to see so many women leaders at Gray.”
Tabor – “In my experience with Gray, there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t feel truly supported, from the top of the company and everyone in between. I’ve been given the same opportunities to show my skills and grow within the company as anyone else. Gray truly stands by their values. I’ve also been given the opportunity to not only work with amazing women across Gray, but also to create relationships and friendships that will last a lifetime with women who have dealt with the same obstacles as myself.”
Tidwell – “I’ve had such a positive experience since I’ve been with Gray. It has felt like home from the start. The support I’ve received on a professional and personal level has been astounding. I’ve made friendships here that will truly last a lifetime. I also recently joined the Groundbreaking Women’s group at Gray and am super excited to see where it leads.”
As Gray celebrates Women in Construction week, we continue to foster our commitment to women at Gray by recognizing and supporting them. The women within Gray’s walls provide irreplaceable value, bringing a unique set of skills to the workplace and setting an example for future generations.
For more information on NAWIC’s Women in Construction Week, visit https://wicweek.org/
For more information on career opportunities at Gray, visit https://www.gray.com/careers