Women in Construction – Supporting. Advancing. Growing.


One of the earliest written records of women working on a construction site was from Navarre, Spain, in the 13th century, where women were day laborers working on stone and wood structures. Other historical records suggest women could have, at times, entered construction trades in England, France, and Germany from the 13th century to the 17th century.

Today, ensuring women are recruited, trained, and — most importantly — treated equally to men is an area crucial to Barton Malow’s future growth and success. It also reflects the core values at the center of Barton Malow culture: integrity, partnership, and empowerment.

That’s why Barton Malow for many years has supported women in all facets of the construction industry. In 2023, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there was a nearly 53 percent increase in women in the U.S. construction industry compared with the previous decade. That’s about 1.28 million women in the industry, from skilled trades and management to transportation and sales. Supporting and advancing this trend is critical, not only to meet the needs of the construction industry across the country but for Barton Malow as it grows to meet the increasing demands of its clients and projects.

Ironworker Marlana Prime
Baycare Plant City Project Women
Project Engineer La'Toya Tyson
Project Executive Stephanie Hachey
Ironworker Kyle Tripp
Women of Ford's Central Campus Building Project

"The construction industry is retiring, and buildings aren't stopping being built. As more women join the workforce and realize that this is a form of education they can go to, then more women are out there to be recruited."

Leslie Beresford

Labor Management Specialist

But the goal isn’t just about getting women to join the construction industry. The idea is to inspire a career where women can contribute in all facets of the industry, make a good income, and learn while they earn.

“You could be in your 20s and easily be making six figures and have no student loan debt when you come out of your apprentice program. It’s a great, great career. You can go from skilled trades if you want to into all kinds of leadership roles,” adds Leslie.

Building a Platform for Advocacy

One meaningful way Barton Malow supports women in construction is through the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC). Founded in 1953, the association was “created to strengthen and amplify the success of women in the construction industry.” Today, Leslie is in her first year as president of the Detroit Chapter, having served the chapter as a member, then secretary, and twice as treasurer and vice president.  “We provide education, community, and advocacy for women from office administration and business owners to skilled trades, (and) women with boots on the ground,” says Leslie.

According to Leslie Beresford, Barton Malow Company leaders enthusiastically support women team members’ involvement in NAWIC every step of the way, encouraging membership, conference attendance, chapter sponsorships, and more. “We sponsor the Detroit Chapter of NAWIC and encourage our team members to immerse themselves locally and nationally in the important work they do. Supporting the growth of women in all areas of the construction industry is front and center at Barton Malow,” says Barton Malow Company President Jon Woodsum. Today, five women from Barton Malow are active members, with three holding board positions.

NAWIC Group Photo, , Women in Construction Week 2024

Leslie Beresford, pictured far right, with the Ultium Cells Lordstown team accepting a 2023 Excellence Award at NAWIC's national conference.

One goal for Leslie is to help the Detroit chapter of NAWIC embrace the same values that have been central to Barton Malow’s culture and success — people, projects, and community. “As we are enhancing women’s careers in construction, their opportunities, and being a voice for women in this industry, I also want to leave our mark,” says Leslie. That includes organizing and providing more opportunities to volunteer in the community, building more camaraderie among members, and finding ways to help.”

Support Where it Counts

From ensuring women on construction sites have appropriately fitting PPE and designated restroom facilities, to sponsoring the NAWIC Detroit Scholarship Golf Outing each year, to raising money for scholarships in skilled trades, apprenticeships, and college programs, Barton Malow is actively driving change to ensure women find their place in the industry. Each year, Barton Malow has supported NAWIC’s Women in Construction Week, created to promote and celebrate the role of women in construction with programs throughout the first full week each March. And for the past several years, the company has supported “Women Who Weld,” a non-profit that teaches women welding skills and helps them find employment. In 2022, Women Who Weld was a major beneficiary at the Barton Malow Foundation’s Building Communities Golf Classic fundraiser.

Building Communities Golf Classic Women in Trades Beneficiary and Big Check, Women in Construction Week 2024

Women Who Weld was one of the main beneficiaries at the Barton Malow Foundation’s 2022 Building Communities Golf Classic.

Active recruiting is another way Barton Malow inspires women to consider construction as a career. For example, the Just Build It! Construction Career Expo hosted by the Washtenaw Contractors Association Foundation is where Barton Malow connects with high school students and helps provide hands-on experience so students can explore opportunities in architecture, engineering, construction, and skilled trades. These events are valuable for Barton Malow to connect with young people, particularly women who are interested in careers in the industry.

Owning a Seat at the Table

As Barton Malow’s Labor Management Specialist, Leslie believes that as newer generations move into the construction workforce, they’re bringing a mindset where men and women are equals. And for Leslie, women team members at Barton Malow are getting the support they need, not because they are women, but because they have the right stuff.

“It’s not enough to get a seat at the table. You have to own the seat at the table, and you have to earn the seat at the table. I’m very proud of Barton Malow because I see them giving women opportunities for leadership. It’s based on your skill, your work ethic, how you’re fitting the values. And so anybody can have equal opportunity in this company regardless if they’re male or female.”

Interested in joining our team? View our current openings.

Related Stories