Shannon Katt is a Director who has been with PMA for 19 years. Shannon began her career in the construction industry somewhat by accident. After earning her degree in aeronautical engineering, she began working at a construction company and found that she enjoyed that line of work.
In reflecting on being a woman in the construction industry, Shannon notes the challenges faced in the early days of her career. Even when she worked for a women-owned construction company, she was almost always the only woman in the field. Shannon felt she had to prove she knew what she was doing, while men in the same role were never questioned. She recalls that the “boys club” mentality was pervasive. Currently, Shannon feels that this mentality is slowly changing and improving and that women in the industry no longer have to fight as hard to be heard.
Shannon notes that she did have a mentor who gave her opportunities in the early days of her career, but that, for the most part, she had to learn and navigate many situations on her own. She recounts how significant those early opportunities were for gaining practical experience. While Shannon hasn’t formally acted as a mentor to other women in the industry, she has shared a sense of camaraderie among the few other women who have worked in site trailers, including administrative staff.
When it comes to advice for other women beginning their careers in the construction industry, Shannon stresses the importance of knowing your projects inside and out, including studying the plans, walking the site, and talking to the field crews. She believes that a significant key to success is being proactive, not always waiting to be told what to do, and listening closely when other people are speaking.