Jessica Ebertsch knew that she wanted to be in the construction industry since she was a teenager. Through hard work and dedication, she made that happen.
Jessica’s passion for construction began early, with her family. Her father and uncle worked within the cement and construction industries, respectfully—two typically male-dominated roles, where even today, there are only approximately 9.9% of women within this field overall. Rather than stopping her, they supported her as she developed an interest in the field, and continued to encourage her as she pursued a career in this field. Their backing early on, despite these gender barriers, helped to build the confidence Jessica would need to succeed later in life. At just 16, they gave her the keys to learn more about construction, which helped her learn why she loved it so much.
"I cleaned the shop floor and talked to the guys on the construction crews. They taught me how to fix and eventually operate the equipment. I loved it!”
However, it was Jessica’s mother—her role model—who showed her that success is possible. When Jessica was growing up, her mother worked in IT when STEM fields were taboo for women, where she was met with prejudice and sexism. Unfortunately, as a woman in a typically male-dominated industry, this is often the case, even today. She gave her daughter strength and wisdom through her own experience. She made it through, which showed Jessica that she could, too, if she worked hard enough.
"My mom showed me that anything is possible, and I don’t have to do what society wants and expects me to do. My mom and I have experienced a lot of the same struggles in our industries, and she made it through which helps me know that I will too.”
As Jessica grew in the construction environment, she realized her leadership and problem-solving skills could be used in other areas of the construction process. From there, she went to college for construction project management, where she eventually became the only woman in her graduating class. Rather than defeating, this stat energized her. Jessica’s continued passion for the study convinced her college roommate to join the construction management program as well!
Passing the baton
Following her heart to find a lucrative job as a project manager at Miron Construction encouraged Jessica to pass the baton. She continues to share her passions with the next generation of builders just like her mother, father, and uncle did for her.
Jessica helps to volunteer her time to several programs with Miron Construction, including a construction camp for at-risk youth in her community. With the group of at-risk students, she gives them the same opportunity given to her at their age—she shows them that they have value and many career options.
Jessica also helps with Miron’s own Build Like a Girl. Build Like a Girl gives girls from 7th to 10th grade the opportunity to spend the day on a construction site learning about the various jobs and opportunities available to them in the construction industry. This access is necessary for many girls to know that it’s possible—the first step is to actually step onto the site, and Build Like a Girl makes that happen.
Many girls who participate in this program have no idea what they want to do with their futures, and even more, have never considered construction. When they get on-site, however, it’s a brand new experience—one that they would never have without this opportunity. With only 1% of construction field laborers being women, Jessica uses Build Like a Girl to show girls what they are capable of, and to encourage them to consider the construction industry.
"Seeing these girls discover a new passion and realize that construction is for them makes me so happy and excited to be on this journey. As a woman in construction, this is the most rewarding thing I get to be part of.”
Adapting to Thrive
As a female leader in a male-dominated workforce, Jessica faces unique challenges every day. She has found that communication is key and has learned to adapt her leadership and speaking style to different situations to ensure that her message is received effectively
"I can say something the exact same way as a male coworker, but it will always be interpreted differently and with harsher undertones because I’m a woman. I learned to adapt my approach to whoever I’m speaking to so I don’t come across as intimidating or demanding"
Even as she deals with occasional sexism and negativity, Jessica’s love for construction keeps her moving forward. For her, no “bad day” can ever overshadow the great days—the days that make it all worth it.
For Jessica, this isn’t just a job. Her passion has been built from the ground up, from when she was 16, sweeping the construction floor, to the project management position she holds at Miron Construction today. As she works hard towards her goals, Jessica’s story is a sign of hope for girls looking to turn their passions into careers.
"Don’t give up. Pursue what you’re excited about, and when the path gets rocky, stick with it because I promise it will be worth it in the end.”