Women in Construction: 1901 Inc.

The annual Women in Construction (WIC) Week, presented by The National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC), highlights women as a viable component of the construction industry. Throughout the week of March 7-13, 2021, Madison Area Mechanical and Sheet Metal Contractors Association (MSC) and Madison Association of Plumbing Contractors (MAPC) will be sharing the valuable and essential qualities that women bring to our contractors both in the office and in the field.

Paul Christensen, the Owner/CEO/Project Executive of 1901 Inc., is proud to have so many talented and qualified women working for his company which has been a successful business for over 100 years.

“1901 understands the importance of diversity within the company and that all walks of life have a different value to add to the table,” explained Christensen.

Whether a woman is looking to work in the office or in the field, Christensen looks forward to continuing to see more women apply to work in the construction industry.

“I would say that the women that do want to work with their hands (in the field), it has to be a desire that that female has that they do want to work with their hands,” said Christensen. “I do wish we’d see more women apply for the trades. We see a lot of women apply for the office positions, way more than back in the day. We’ve obviously seen an increase in women applying for the trades, but I would love to see a bigger volume of women applying for the trades.”

Christensen has found success recruiting women and minorities to work for 1901 Inc. by putting women in front of women and minorities in front of minorities at recruiting events.

“When we are having career fairs, if it’s a Women in Construction Career Fair where we know there are going to be a lot of females in attendance, we will send our female employees there,” explained Christensen. “Then that (interested applicant) can put themselves in their shoes (and see that they can have a successful career in construction too).”

Christensen has many women throughout his company, including serving in leadership roles.

“If you look at our executive staff list, we have several women in leadership roles,” said Christensen. “All the way to our head office manager that everyone in the office reports to and my head accountant for the company that’s in charge of all of the company finances and accounts, so that’s two of the biggest positions in our company that I have as ladies for a reason. They’ve earned and deserved that spot.”

Christensen knows that every one of his employees brings a different set of qualities to 1901 Inc. He has hired women in different roles throughout his company from the executive level to the mid-support level and in the field. Each one of these women have brought different assets and strengths to his team.

“I will say that I personally find, generally, women tend to be a lot more organized than men and can deal with processes, following the right processes,” explained Christensen. “I’m not sure why, but they seem to be able to switch gears faster. Like our mid-supports staff who work in our APM department, just amazing the different multiple things those women touch and it doesn’t slow them down as they move from one task to a different task. Not all men, but most men, it seems to take them longer to shift gears when they’re moving through multiple different tasks.”

Along with the many assets and strengths that women bring to the construction industry, they also bring the advantage of thinking and processing things differently than men.

Christensen shared, “I would say women help us at work, especially on the construction side of things. There are many ways to achieve a goal, so women help funnel all those options and dive down to what we should be doing and also helping men turn the rock on every different side to see things. People tend to have tunnel vision, but there are all different sides to the rock that have to be looked at when doing these big complex projects. With women, it’s one of the advantages. They help us look at every side of that rock.”

Regardless of their gender or ethnicity, all of Christensen’s employees need to be willing to share their desires and career aspirations. If someone in the field is interested in moving into the office and working on the CAD or BIM side of things, they need to share that information and the company has to be good listeners to help them to those desired paths. Christensen knows the importance of listening to his employees and making sure they are in the right roles and positions at 1901 Inc.