I believe women provide diversity of ideas to the construction field from problem solving to specific skillsets in the day-to-day activity that goes on at any given project.

As we celebrate Women in Construction Week this year and its focus of highlighting women as a viable component of the construction industry, we recognize the importance of raising awareness of opportunities available for women and emphasize women’s growing role in the construction industry.

Designated by the National Association of Women in Construction, this year’s Women in Construction Week theme is connect, collaborate, and construct to promote women in construction communities. As more opportunities arise for women in the industry and women take more leadership roles, Katie Watson-Cruz, Senior Project Manager, shares what this theme means to her and offers insight into her journey in the construction industry.

What does this year’s Women in Construction Week theme mean to you?

Connect: Reflect upon how and why I decided to begin my career in construction and connect with my past mentors who helped guide me to become the person I am today. It is these specific experiences that push me to be a leader and role model for the young women in our industry today.

Collaborate: To succeed in this industry, you must be a team player and form partnerships that allow you to work together to achieve a common goal.

Construct: All projects have a purpose — you must be mindful of this over the lifecycle of the project.

What opportunities are available for women in construction?

The opportunities for women are endless, and women should never set limitations on what they can do and accomplish. With diverse technical, design, and management positions available, some opportunities and areas of interest can include apprenticeships, programs, and skilled craftsman roles, building information modeling, safety leadership, and project management.

How have you been promoted as a leader in construction?

I have been promoted as a leader in construction through my hard work ethic, dedication, and passion for this industry. I value the relationships that I have formed throughout the years. My dad always told me to treat others the way you want to be treated.

How are women increasingly becoming leaders in the construction field, especially as the number of women in construction grows?

I believe women provide diversity of ideas to the construction field from problem solving to specific skillsets in the day-to-day activity that goes on at any given project. I also think that women raise the bar when it comes to delivering a level of satisfaction to the client and customer.

How have you leveraged your expertise to seize unique opportunities within the construction field?

I have leveraged my expertise in multiple ways. Completing the apprenticeship program and working in the trenches allowed me to gain the respect of others that I work alongside. I can also relate and understand the field crews and their working conditions and how important it is to ensure that your field has the tools they need to do their job successfully. For clients and customers, I can explain and provide insight as to why we may want to sequence work in a different way to allow other trades to be more productive. Overall, within my places of employment, my expertise has allowed me to try and close the gap between management and field and implement processes to improve our inefficiencies.

Is there anything else you would like to share regarding your career as a woman in construction or just in general?

I did not allow myself to think I was different from anyone growing up through the construction industry. I knew that I had to earn the respect of others and I did that by consistently pushing myself to be the best that I could be.  Set goals and never give up!


  • Katie Watson-Cruz, Senior Project Manager at Southland Industries, is responsible for overseeing and executing multiple projects with staff and field supervision. With over 25 years of experience and having held multiple positions such as apprentice, journeyman, project engineer, project manager, and operations manager, Katie focuses on the overall execution of projects including client/customer relationships, team supervision, procurements, subcontracting, and job performance. Katie leverages her multiple certifications such as completion of apprenticeship program and construction management within her role. She is also a Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA) and Arizona JATC trustee as well as a member of the SMACNA Marketing Committee and the National Association of Women in Construction.

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