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Major Contractor Pledges To Increase Roles For Women In Its Ranks

A worker with Suffolk Construction.

One of the country's 25 largest contractors is pledging to boost women within its own ranks, launching a Boston-based program aimed at recruiting women in future construction and STEM jobs.

Suffolk has launched "Rebuild the Ratio," which seeks to increase the number of women within Suffolk by 10% over the next 10 years from 28% to 38%, the company announced Monday. Women make up just 9.9% of the construction workforce and 28% of STEM positions, according to industry research cited by Suffolk.

“We realize this is a marathon and not a sprint, but we believe there is no organization better suited to lead the charge than Suffolk,” Suffolk Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer Lea Stendahl said in a statement. 

The firm announced a 10-year partnership with the Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts and YouthBuild Boston to offer construction and STEM curriculums to Girl Scouts between ages 5 and 17. The lack of women in STEM careers stands in contrast with 74% of teen girls who say they’re interested in the field, according to the Girl Scouts of the USA.

Gender stereotypes, lack of mentorship and feelings of alienation in the male-dominated field are reasons for the lack of progress by women in the industry, a study by the Girl Scouts found. Of the construction field’s nearly 10.7 million workers in 2018, just 971,000 were women, according to The National Association of Women in Construction.

The 15-person executive team leading the construction firm counts three women, and a woman is a local CEO at the firm's San Francisco office, one of 10 Suffolk offices nationwide.

Suffolk's wide-ranging construction management portfolio includes the Encore Boston Harbor Casino and Hotel and the Winthrop Center, the downtown Boston skyscraper, which would be the world's tallest Passive House building, its developers claim.

The firm's guitar-shaped Hard Rock Hotel in Hollywood, Florida, was built with Yates Construction, and the joint venture featured a female project executive and a workforce of 30% women out of the site's 109 employees.