Opportunities for women could grow in Atlanta’s booming construction industry

Growing up outside of Cincinnati, Erin Jones started thinking about a career in engineering when she was in high school.

“I got into construction because of my high school physics teacher who showed me this really cool experiment and I was just kind of hooked,” Jones said.

She studied civil engineering at university and turned to construction as a career. This led her to her current role as project manager for Skanska USA, which is building the Signia by Hilton hotel next to the Georgia World Congress Center and Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

“I mainly deal with the structure – so anything involving structural steel or concrete; deep foundations, underground utilities and demolition, that’s what my role has been here,” said Jones, who now lives in Norcross.

The 40-story hotel is built on the site of the former Georgia Dome. Jones says this means some of the foundations of the old facility are being reinforced and reinforced and used for the construction of the new hotel.

Construction in Georgia — and much of the United States — faces a shortage of workers. It could mean more career opportunities for women in the industry. Currently, women make up about 10% of construction workers.

“I’ve been very lucky in my construction career,” Jones said. “I’ve normally always been around at least one other female, which is good. On this project we have three females, which is really amazing. But it’s very sparse and few in between, obviously.

Jones says his experience in the construction industry has been good, “we still have the same workload, we still have the same conversations, so there’s not much different here,” he said. she declared. “I think for me, my name is Erin, so a lot of people are confused that there are male ‘Aarons,’ so I think that comes with a bit of a shock,” Jones said.

Jones encourages girls and young women to pursue STEM education if they are interested.

“We don’t have a lot of women in construction or engineering or any of the STEM programs,” Jones said. “So I would just say if you’re really interested, go ahead, stay stubborn, don’t let anyone tell you you can’t do it. Just know that there can be challenges here, and you just keep going and keep your head down and keep working as hard as you can.

Jones says the next step in his career would likely be as a senior project manager. This is a role in which she would be more concerned with the ownership of the business and the customers.

“There are opportunities [for women] in every trade and every trade, and you’re starting to see more and more of them, like your plumbers and electricians,” said Clay Whitman, who oversees security at the new hotel site. “Some of the concrete people have two or three women in their crews.”

“It’s an opportunity and career potential and the money is there, and it’s what it takes to support your family,” Whitman said. “And it’s a good deal to be in.”