Table of Experts: Women in Construction

Tuesday, March 30th, 2021

Pope Architects’ Vice President Erica Larson had the recent opportunity to join peers of the AEC industry for discussion by the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal’s Table of Experts: Women in Construction.

Fellow panelists included: Stacy Arnold, safety manager, RJM Construction; Inga Kingland, attorney, Larkin Hoffman; Tara Blotske, senior project manager, Ryan Cos. US Inc.; and Amy Santerre, project manager, Shaw-Lundquist Construction. Barb Lau, executive director of the Association of Women Contractors, served as moderator.

Below is a snippet of the conversation. Check out the full article linked here. 

Lau: Erica, how have you seen the role of women in the architecture and engineering community change? What advice would you give to someone who was selecting A&E as a profession?

Larson: When I started at Pope almost 19 years ago, we had roughly 35 people and only a small percentage of them were not from the administrative part of the firm. Our firm has changed drastically over my career. Today, we are now almost 80 people, and we’re much more diverse in our people and as a practice. We’re almost 50% female now. We’ve worked hard on creating a culture that is inclusive for everybody and very flexible. We say family comes first, and we truly mean it. It’s really important for us to foster and encourage people, and specifically to mentor people in the profession. I’ve been an adjunct professor at Dunwoody, trying to encourage more women to enter the field. The more diverse we can all become we’re only going to recruit more women, and I think we’ve seen that change a lot, at least on the architecture side, which is still further ahead than the construction side. It will definitely take more time, but we’re really tracking in the right direction. The future looks bright for women in our field.

Lau: Is there anything else you want to make sure Business Journal readers know? Maybe it’s women who are considering a career change, maybe something for men who are reading to know how they can be a better advocate for women in the industry.

Larson: I think one of the things people don’t realize about our industry is how diverse it is. There are so many different roles and positions within our field from architecture, construction, business development, project management, design. The possibilities within the AEC community are plentiful and endless.