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WIC Week—Operations


Women in the field represent less than 2 percent of the construction industry. In such a male-dominated industry, oftentimes women find it hard to imagine themselves in these roles because it is sometimes hard to be what you can’t see. Others are ready to step in but find the work or environment doesn’t suit them.


There are many women at Manson who have defied those stereotypes and risen through the ranks, from project admins to field engineers to project engineers. And several have their eyes on the prize: they see a project manager position in their futures at Manson.


Like many folks in the field, they love to tinker and see how stuff works. They like to be behind the scenes and find it rewarding to see something built from beginning to end. Each of them has their own motivation for getting into the field and things that they love about it. We did a quick Q&A with some of these trailblazers.









Kelli Rider, Project Engineer

Project Manager Kelli Struett

Q: How long have you been with Manson?


A: Eight years


Q: Given that construction is such a male-dominated industry, what brought you to it?


A: I was designing structures and realized I did not know how they would be built. I thought it would be good for me to learn how to build the structures if I was going to design them too.


Q: Explain your role and your day-to-day


A: I am a project engineer/project manager. My day consists of coordination with the project owner, subcontracts and suppliers, RFI's/Submittals, construction control, contracts/ordering materials, scheduling, planning work, and making sure the field work has what they need to succeed.


Q: What about your work inspires you?


A: Seeing all the hard work being built and completed. There is nothing better than watching a project that you have worked so hard on become operational. Also, the people we work with at Manson make you want to perform better every day. How hard everyone works and how much everyone cares makes you want to do your best all the time.


Q: What do you see in your future in the construction industry?


A: To continue to grow and support the company in any way that I can


Q: What has been your biggest challenge of being a woman working in construction?


A: Most people whether they mean to or not have biases about the knowledge and skill set a woman has in this industry as well as how a woman should act vs. how a man should act. For better or worse (and sometimes it is better) women are treated or talked to differently. As in any heavily male-dominated field, gaining respect can be more difficult.



Field Engineer Taylor McRae

Taylor McRae, Field Engineer


Q: How long have you been with Manson?


A: One year


Q: Given that construction is such a male-dominated industry, what brought you to it?


A: I went to school for engineering and my mom did too. I have always had a curiosity for construction.


Q: Explain your role and your day-to-day


A: I’m a field engineer working with the hopper dredge GLENN EDWARDS. I’ll go out on crew boat and get a conditions survey or a before or after dredge survey, which are then provided to the client. I also assist the Lead/PE's with anything that is needed for whatever job is coming up.


Q: What about your work inspires you?


A: The people really inspire me and knowing that I am helping the U.S. make progress. I love being on the water every day. I like the 19 days on with 9 days off schedule. And my group is really awesome to work with.


Q: What do you see in your future in the construction industry?


A: I am learning as much as I can, but I still want to learn more. Once COVID is over I hope to spend more time on the dredge to get that experience.


Q: What has been your biggest challenge of being a woman working in construction?


A: I work with all men all the time and they have been great. I feel like they see that woman are more capable than the stereotypes would make you think. I have definitely learned to work smarter not harder, but I am treated very well.


Field Engineer Jessica Heath

Jessica Heath, Field Engineer


Q: How long have you been with Manson?


A: Three years


Q: Given that construction is such a male-dominated industry, what brought you to it?


A: I studied studied ocean engineering. Dredge and marine construction aligned with my interests. And I like the start to finish aspect of the projects.


Q: Explain your role and your day-to-day


A: I work with the hoppers down in Louisiana, currently working on the RM WHITE. I do hydrographic surveys, daily reports and project planning, and database entry.


Q: What about your work inspires you?


A: I am faced with new daily challenges and that has helped me grow.


Q: What do you see in your future in the construction industry?


A: I would like to work on some Marine Construction projects and then one day I’d like to have a Project Manager role.


Q: What has been your biggest challenge of being a woman working in construction?


A: I haven’t seen a lot of those challenges in Manson. Stepping up to be leader when your in a room full of men has been interesting for me, but feels it’s been well received.



Field Engineer Amanda Hamrick

Amanda Hamrick, Field Engineer


Q: How long have you been with Manson?


A: Two years


Q: Given that construction is such a male-dominated industry, what brought you to it?


A: For the duration of a project, no two days are the same, and my job is constantly challenging me to utilize my problem solving skills.


Q: Explain your role and your day-to-day


A: I have recently left the field to join the Survey Department for a Training Work Assignment. Day to day, I get to shadow and learn aspects of jobs that I would never get to see otherwise. This includes going into the field to install or troubleshoot survey vessels, dredges, and other equipment. My favorite part is being in the warehouse and learning about the hardware, especially if we are getting to build something ourselves in house. Our main goal every day is to make sure that the jobsites are getting the support needed to successfully complete their projects


Q: What about your work inspires you?


A: If you do the same job with the same equipment twice, you will still encounter unique problems. Developing a solution requires communication, organization, and creativity. Remaining adaptable keeps me engaged in our work, looking for ways to improve efficiency and quality.


Q: What do you see in your future in the construction industry?


A: A beach nourishment job is on my project bucket list. Long term, I hope to eventually move into more project management roles.


Q: What has been your biggest challenge of being a woman working in construction?


A: I feel very lucky to work with such great groups at Manson who have never made it an issue for me. As cliché as it sounds, I think sometimes the biggest challenge is myself. It is very easy to sit back and just go with the flow of the project, but I try to vocalize my questions and ideas as much as possible.

Project Engineer Courtney Sakuma

Courtney Sakuma, Project Engineer


Q: How long have you been with Manson?


A: Five years in June, but I interned with Manson first.


Q: Given that construction is such a male-dominated industry, what brought you to it?


A: I majored in civil industry and received an internship from Manson. I liked to actually see things happening versus designing as I was taught in school. I really liked the construction side of engineering.


Q: Explain your role and your day-to-day


A: I review work plans, check work is being done according to the plans, communicate with owners, and make sure production is being done safely and timely.


Q: What about your work inspires you?


A: There are not a lot of women in construction, but when I’m able to contribute and I’m given the opportunity to prove my knowledge, it is rewarding.


Q: What do you see in your future in the construction industry?


A: I hope to become a project engineer. I am looking to pursue a professional engineer license and to continue to learn new things.


Q: What has been your biggest challenge of being a woman working in construction?


A: I'm used to being surrounded by men, but sometimes you do have to work extra hard to prove yourself.



Project Administrator Jennifer Stuessy

Jennifer Stuessy, Project Administrator


Q: How long have you been with Manson?


A: Six years


Q: Given that construction is such a male-dominated industry, what brought you to it?


A: I have grown up around it. It is intriguing to see things from beginning and end.


Q: Explain your role and your day-to-day


A: There’s an element of putting out fires, resolving personnel issues, payroll issues, overseeing the overall project administration, training to new hires and overall point of contact.



Q: What about your work inspires you?


A: The people motivate you. Taking care of the people that are taking care of the projects is motivating


Q: What do you see in your future in the construction industry?


A: I would like a role in more of the behind-the-scenes operations.


Q: What has been your biggest challenge of being a woman working in construction?


A: I am used to having to work with men around and I don’t feel any difference based on gender. I do like seeing more women working alongside the men. I feel that my personality falls right in line with the guys. You can’t be afraid to speak up.



Project Engineer Nicole Egli (far right)

Nicole Egli, Project Engineer


Q: How long have you been with Manson?


A: More than 10 years with Manson but 12 years in the industry


Q: Given that construction is such a male-dominated industry, what brought you to it?


A: I took my brother to freshman orientation and listened to a graduate speaking on her college experience, how she had interned and then had a job at graduation. I was in Business Administration for two semesters and switched to engineering after that. Hearing her speech was relatable.


Q: Explain your role and your day-to-day


A: I am currently a scheduler on the Manson/Kiewit JV project at MOTCO, coordinating with superintendents to understand changes and write narrative of delays, changes and billings to the client. Typically, I am a project engineer planning with crews, ensuring the building plan and meeting production and safety goals.


Q: What about your work inspires you?


A: I enjoy working with people. My favorite part of the day is being with the crew or motivating someone on my team, anyone from interns to my peers. I enjoy teachable moments with peers.


Q: What do you see in your future in the construction industry?


A: I look forward to being a project manager. I like managing people and having teachable moments. I want to be able to help grow others. I also enjoy keeping relationships with project owners as it helps Manson with its work pursuit.


Q: What has been your biggest challenge of being a woman working in construction?


A: At first, I was intimidated because I didn’t have the same knowledge of tools as the men. I would think about my wardrobe wondering if it was appropriate attire. And then there was this “I don’t know anything attitude” like imposter syndrome. After some time it didn't matter anymore whether I was a man or a woman, however, in the beginning, being underestimated was a thing.



Field Engineer Miranda Sweigert

Miranda Sweigert, Field Engineer


Q: How long have you been with Manson?


A: Started July 2020


Q: Given that construction is such a male-dominated industry, what brought you to it?


A: I have a degree in Engineering. I like that the work is a lot more hands on and I can see the work and be involved in it. I have a better understanding about how things get built and that’s made it fun.


Q: Explain your role and your day-to-day


A: As a field engineer there’s a lot of running around. I typically act as a go between for the field and office. I utilize the drawings to relay info with the crew and also act as the Survey Manager.


Q: What about your work inspires you?


A: Often times problems arise based on existing conditions, and I’m challenged to come up with solutions and then see them come into play. There’s very active problem solving involved.


Q: What do you see in your future in the construction industry?


A: I like to float through things in life, maintain a fluid perspective most of the time. I am excited to see what that mentality will bring around construction. I am glad I am on field construction and not in the office. I very much prefer being outdoors, which helps in this role.


Q: What has been your biggest challenge of being a woman working in construction?


A: I am so desensitized to being a woman in a male industry. Sometimes when an issue is presented I may not be listened to as easily, but I do get heard. I am often told in my life that "I don’t fit the norm,” but with this, I feel like I am part of the norm.






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