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Pioneers of Progress: Celebrating Women's History Month in the Construction Industry



As we mark Women's History Month, it's vital to honor the extraordinary women who have forged paths in the construction industry, demonstrating leadership, innovation, and a commitment to fostering inclusivity. Norma Merrifield Sklarek, Jennifer Todd, Sashe Ivy, Emily Roebling, and Robin Thorne are ' exemplary figures whose contributions have not only advanced the field but also laid the groundwork for future generations of women to succeed in construction, engineering, and architecture.


Norma Merrifield Sklarek: The Architectural Trailblazer



Norma Merrifield Sklarek made history as one of the first African American women to become a licensed architect in the United States, showcasing her exceptional talent and breaking down barriers in the architecture and construction industries. Her work on significant projects, including the California Mart and Terminal One at Los Angeles International Airport, left an indelible mark on the profession, symbolizing perseverance, excellence, and the breaking of racial and gender barriers.


Jennifer Todd: A Young Trailblazer with a Record-Breaking Achievement



Jennifer Todd is recognized not only for her leadership and innovation but also for becoming the youngest Black woman to earn a CSLB (A) General Engineering license in California. As the owner and manager of a successful construction company, Todd has actively promoted diversity and inclusion, particularly emphasizing the importance of elevating women and minorities within the construction industry. Her advocacy and achievements inspire a more inclusive future for the construction sector.


Sashe Ivy: Promoting Gender Diversity Through Advocacy



Sashe Ivy, though perhaps less known, has made significant strides in advocating for gender diversity within the construction sector. Her work in mentorship and advocacy has been instrumental in empowering women entering the field, contributing to the ongoing movement toward gender equality in traditionally male-dominated arenas. Ivy's dedication to creating a more inclusive industry culture underscores the importance of mentorship and support for women in construction.


Emily Roebling: An Engineering Marvel



Emily Roebling's instrumental role in the completion of the Brooklyn Bridge is a historic example of women's significant contributions to engineering and construction. Taking over the project's supervision after her husband became incapacitated, Roebling's determination and expertise were pivotal to the bridge's success. Her legacy serves as a powerful inspiration for women engineers and construction professionals worldwide.


Robin Thorne: Championing Female Involvement in Construction



Robin Thorne, CEO of CTI Environmental Inc., stands out for her leadership in a company specializing in demolition and abatement, safety, and environmental compliance solutions. Beyond her executive role, Thorne's passion for promoting female involvement in the construction industry shines through her founding of DemoChicks, a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating young women about career opportunities in engineering, construction, and architecture. As a Black woman in a leadership position, Thorne embodies the change she seeks to create, using every aspect of her work to propel female involvement in the construction industry forward.


Inspiring the Next Generation

The stories of these remarkable women—Norma Merrifield Sklarek, Jennifer Todd, Sashe Ivy, Emily Roebling, and Robin Thorne—serve as beacons of progress, illustrating the essential role women play in enriching and advancing the construction industry. As we celebrate Women's History Month, let's honor their achievements and the paths they've paved for future generations. Their legacies not only pay tribute to their groundbreaking work but also inspire ongoing efforts towards a more inclusive and equitable construction industry. Let's continue to build on their extraordinary contributions, ensuring that women's involvement in construction continues to grow, innovate, and lead.

A'mia Michele


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