FIU moves towards diversity with increasing female student enrollment

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fiu news construction mangement image
Image from FIU News

Florida International University (FIU) says that more than 90 percent of individuals working in construction management are male, but it is working to change that, and the percentage of female students continues to increase each year.

Today, close to 40 percent of the program’s master’s degree students are female, and the number of those enrolled in the bachelor’s degree are growing in face-to-face and online-only formats, Monica Smith reports in FIU News. With the effects of coronavirus and remote learning, the numbers are climbing.

“We are proud of our increasing diversity and top rankings,” Jose Faria, interim chair of the Moss Department of Construction Management, was quoted as saying. “Many of our students are from our community and end up working on projects within South Florida, like the new guitar-shaped Hard Rock Hotel.”

Carina Cortes, a project manager for Link Construction in Miami says she feels respect for women is high. She earned a FIU bachelor’s degree in construction management in 2019. She describes how work is progressing during the COVID-19 pandemic

“Since construction is essential, we haven’t stopped,” she says. “Everyone is running like before. It’s truly been eye-opening for me that even in a crisis like this, I still have a job. It says a lot about the career I chose.”

In general, an industry gender shift is occurring.

Faria Nipesh Pradhananga, assistant professor and graduate program director at the construction management program cites the department’s efforts to build momentum and introduce girls to the industry with the free “She Builds” summer camp. The department created the camp in 2019 for girls in grades 9 to 12. While the current pandemic has stopped plans for the camp this year, there are intentions to reschedule the event in 2021, the published report says.

Pradhananga emphasizes that it’s not just increasing the number of women in construction management that’s needed. Increasing the use of technology is a must to attract the younger generation.

Alumnae aren’t just found in hard hats at construction sites, Pradhananga said in the article. “Many women fill professional roles within the industry in addition to becoming managers. With the availability of online learning, the master’s degree in construction management can be pursued 100 percent online, which may be the game changer for many women who work or have family obligations, and it certainly helps at this time amid COVID-19, he rationalizes.”

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