Story Construction

Story's Women in Construction: Erin Baxter

March 6, 2019

Job Title: Project Engineer

College: Iowa State University

Years With Story: 5

how did you decide you wanted to go into the engineering field? What has your path been like since?

I'd say it was probably by middle school that I figured out I'd want to go into something related to construction. My dad is a farmer, so he often did small construction projects around the farm or on the house, and my dad actually designed and built our house. That was probably when I started realizing it. 

I started out in architecture because I love the design part of it, but I realized I don't really think like they do. When I look at something I try to figure out how it's built, rather than get into the aesthetics of it. So I did a year of pre-architecture at Iowa State, submitted my portfolio, and just decided it wasn't for me. So from there on out it was construction engineering for me and I graduated in December 2015. Throughout college I had summer internships in engineering both in the field and in the office, until landing an internship and ultimately a full time job at Story. 

What do you like most about your job here at story construction?

I've always really liked how it feels like a family with my team because we're always working together, and if you need anything they're not going to judge you. They're going to be there for you -- they're going to help you work through it. 

In your mind, what are some benefits to having more women in the construction industry?

I think women have a different way of thinking about a project. I'll often be working with our superintendent on a project and they'll bring up something and I'll say, "Well, what about this..." and their response is usually, "Well I didn't think of it that way." Male brains and female brains just think of things differently. For me, I know having Valarie Vizza as a mentor really helped me. She's been in the role I am or was in when I first started, so having her as a female mentor was really important. I think as more women join the industry, it'll sort of snowball and more women will have mentors in the industry to look to for guidance, so that's another benefit.

What advice would you give to young women looking to join the construction industry? 

To young women making decisions on potential career fields, I would say don't be afraid to work in a male-dominated field! You can still be feminine and work in construction. Let's be real: my hardhat is pink., my phone is pink, my boots are pink -- you can still be feminine and work in construction, so definitely don't let that get in the way. There are a lot of different opportunities in the industry to take advantage of. 

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