When it comes to women in construction, Arkansas trails other states. But our own Lea Cecsarini – field officer manager and technician – has built a 20-year construction career with McGeorge Contracting Company, which she recently discussed with THV11. The takeaway? Women are well-equipped for the job.
“If you can operate an SUV full of soccer kids, you can operate any one of these pieces of equipment out here," she said, gesturing to the busy bypass project site behind her.
Lea got her start with McGeorge as a flagger two decades ago when she needed a job while raising her children. She stayed with the company, expanded her skills, took on more responsibilities and climbed the ladder. And she’s not alone.
Dorothy Marshall has been with McGeorge for seven years. She started out as a laborer, heavy equipment operator and radiation gauge operator. Now? Dorothy has been promoted to field tech manager and wears many different hats.
The female employee who has been with McGeorge the longest, though, has got to be Brenda Powell. She was looking for a part-time job in 1986 and accidentally found a career in construction, starting out at our Granite Mountain Quarries division. These days she is celebrating an incredible 35 years with the company.
L to R: Brenda Powel, Karen Price (heavy equipment operator with company starting Jan. 2017), Dorothy Marshall
“I started weighing out trucks and rail cars and moved up through the company as executive admin,” Brenda said, “completed college via night school, with great support and encouragement by company management, and eventually promoted to HR and safety coordinator for the past 10 years. Recently, I’ve been promoted to safety/HR director for McGeorge and our concrete division, WK Contractors.”
Brenda also serves as a board member for the local chapter of the National Association of Women in Construction. The organization promotes women in all areas of construction, from equipment operators to executive leadership roles, particularly now as baby boomers are retiring and the demand for highly skilled workers continues to rise. And the facts are compelling:
- Women now make up 10% of the construction industry.
- The gender pay gap is significantly smaller in construction occupations, with women earning on average 99.1% of what men make, compared to the U.S. average of 81.1% across all industries (based on 2019 data).
- Construction has continued to evolve over the years; women can take advantage of impressive technology, competitive salaries and benefits, advancement opportunities and high demand throughout the industry.
“I personally would like to thank all the hardworking ladies in our company,” Brenda said. “Remember, with today’s technology, operating most of the heavy equipment is mind over muscle.”
If you or someone you know is interested in construction careers, we want to hear from you! McGeorge is a recognized leader in the industry thanks to the incredible women and men who make up our team. To explore job opportunities, click here.