Webcor PC Nicole Rangel Launches BuildHERs

Project Coordinator Nicole Rangel recently launched BuildHERs, an initiative dedicated to empowering women in construction while recruiting more women into the industry.

September 8, 2023


Earlier this year, Project Coordinator Nicole Rangel launched BuildHERs, a rapidly growing initiative dedicated to empowering women currently in construction while recruiting more women into construction to combat the industry’s glaring lack of gender diversity. It’s an issue that the hyper-local neighborhood hiring program at the Biosolids Digester Facilities Project (BDFP), the MWH/Webcor joint venture to which she's currently assigned, was specifically designed to help address, Nicole says.

“During our monthly check-ins with the community-based organizations (CBOs) with which we partner for BDFP’s neighborhood hiring program, the need to maximize women’s participation on the project kept arising as an issue we needed to resolve,” she says. “When MWH Project Director Kathryn Mallon called and asked if I’d be interested in running a support group for women on the project site, I gladly accepted.”

In partnership with Rashaida Nirobe, program director of BDFP CBO Sistas With Tools (an MC3-certified program supporting women in the trades), Nicole organized an on-site spring event for the women working at BDFP and with BDFP’s community partners. It was the group’s (now called BuildHERs) second meeting since its inception; the first took place at BDFP in February, which Nicole coordinated with Safety Manager Kendall Cantave. During the event, attendees gathered together to share their honest, straightforward concerns and frustrations about working in the industry as women.

“Once we collected that feedback, our plan was to create a list of action items we could implement to start addressing the challenges voiced by attendees,” Nicole says. “We also simply wanted to get all the women on the project together to emphasize that they are not alone and that they have real support throughout the job site. We also wanted to see how many women would return after the meeting we hosted in February. Thankfully, we had a great turnout, and the women were extremely engaged and interested in voicing their thoughts.”

The meeting fueled several results worth celebrating—the smiles, laughter, and excitement for future meetings; the influx of women driven to the meeting by a shared desire to support BuildHERs; the palpable camaraderie built between participants; the vulnerability they exuded when opening up about shared struggles so they could engage in honest conversations with one another; and seeing almost all the women come together across various roles on a project as large as BDFP, Nicole says.

Following the spring meeting, Nicole partnered with MWH Administrative Assistant Darlene Camara on developing an appropriate logo and name for the group that best reflected its mission statement and long-term goals—culminating in the birth of “BuildHERs.”

Soon thereafter, Webcor Safety Clerk Ty’Asia Reynolds and MWH Project Engineer Lizzy Trueblood joined Nicole, Rashaida, and Darlene on BuildHERs’ leadership team. Together, they analyzed the feedback from the spring meeting and began strategizing solutions to the challenges shared by participants. Rashaida’s years of expertise in leading women-focused groups and initiatives has been particularly valuable as they work together to determine a concrete list of goals and ideas for the group, Nicole says. Under Rashaida’s guidance, they look forward to continuing regularly scheduled post-BuildHERs event meetings to debrief, discuss attendee feedback and engagement, and incorporate lessons learned into future plans for the group.

“It’s imperative that Webcor continues to champion DEI initiatives such as BuildHERs in the workplace because it sets the tone for the culture we’re trying to cultivate,” Nicole says. “A group like BuildHERs brings those initiatives to life—it’s something people can experience and contribute to if they’d like.”

Throughout the spring event, several women approached Nicole to thank her for organizing the event and share that they’d never attended anything like it before.

“Kendall said Webcor’s support of a meeting like this proved that ‘We don’t just talk the talk; we walk the walk,’” Nicole says. “That’s really what we’re trying to do here—create a more inclusive, respectful, and safe environment for all.”

BuildHERs’ current mission and goals include:

  • “Create a culture change within the overall male-dominated construction industry. We want women to feel empowered to join and stay in the industry.
  • “This fuels our mission statement: ‘BuildHERs was created to give all women, in a male- dominant construction industry, a voice.’
  • “Together, we will empower women in construction through equity and equality, by creating a job site where women are respected and recognized.
  • “Our goal is for women to thrive personally and professionally.
  • “By fostering a supportive community and addressing the challenges women face, we can inspire the next generation of women in construction. It’s time for a change.”