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Breaking Through the Concrete Ceiling: An Interview with CEO Jan Hibbs about Women in Construction

Breaking Through the Concrete Ceiling: An Interview with CEO Jan Hibbs about Women in Construction

The Blue Book Network® is proud to announce its latest piece from our Industry Experts.

We’re excited to welcome Jan Hibbs, CEO of Hibbs General Contracting.

How did you enter the construction industry? What was your first job in construction?

I entered the industry when I decided to make a career change while going back to work after having children.  My husband and I made a joint decision to start our business while he was still working in another industry. We started off by buying and selling homes that needed some TLC. We quickly moved into the Custom Home market and have stayed there. Due to fact that Hibbs Homes has steadily grown for the past 12 years, our decision to expand into the commercial construction field with Hibbs General Contracting was a natural progression for us, and I wanted to take leadership of the company while Kim concentrated on Hibbs Homes.

In your experience, has the construction industry become more inclusive to women? What were the signs that the environment may be shifting? In what ways does the industry as a whole benefit from becoming more diverse?

Our industry is slowly overcoming some of the traditional gender gaps, and I’m excited to be a part of that movement. Thanks to groups like PWC (Professional Women in Construction) and the NAWIC (National Association of Women in Construction), we are seeing the numbers of women in construction increase, which is exciting. I recently read that women in the workforce traditionally make 82.1% of what men make – but that in construction, we’re seeing that gender gap close a little faster – with women making more than 93% of what men make.

Our industry has been a difficult one for women to break into – a “boys’ club” historically, but I hope and believe that in time that we see true equality.

I am exceptionally lucky, because construction, for us, is a family business. Hibbs Homes was a company we founded more than 11 years ago, and we have been able to build a corporate culture that will be supportive and inclusive of all people. Heading up this new entity, I intend to continue that tradition.

What changes do you foresee in construction over the next five years? Do you have any observations or advice for anyone looking further their career in this industry?

I foresee our industry continuing to grow after the downturn of the past 10 years. The economy is one reason but also technology and better building practices has enabled contractors to provide their clients a better quality product at a reasonable cost.

My suggestion for young women who are in high school or college is to take advantage of all of the courses that are offered in the construction industry. There has really been an increase in the exposure for young people to the construction industry. High schools offer more classes, colleges now have degrees in Construction Management and there are many trade schools.   And I believe it is the responsibility of women in the industry to help mentor those who seeking opportunities in the industry.

How do you feel about the role of women in construction? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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