Women in Construction Week is dedicated to recognizing the impact that women have made in the construction industry. It’s also about raising awareness of the opportunities available to women in this field.
REjournals is running profiles of several women who are thriving in what remains a largely male-dominated industry. Our final installment of the week celebrates the many achievements of Related Midwest Senior Project Manager Yanet Garcia.
What led you to a career in CRE?
Yanet Garcia: I worked as a licensed architect for the first eight years of my career, but I realized a few years in that I wanted to be part of the planning and decision making at the onset of a project. I wanted to be able to inform what a project was going to look like.
What hurdles do you face working in a career still largely dominated by men?
Garcia: I still walk onto a jobsite and have to prove myself every time, and I’ve done projects of all sizes. But that’s okay; it’s part of working in a male-dominated industry. As a Latina, there’s pressure to not show up as my authentic self, that I need to blend into the fabric of an office or a jobsite. But along with being a professional, it’s also about being an individual.
How do you overcome these hurdles?
Garcia: By acknowledging the circumstances that I’m in and learning to navigate them with humility and openness. It is tough, sometimes, being the only one at the table, and I have to trust and remind myself that my experience and my perspective and my ‘onlyness’, at times, is my strength. Recognizing that within myself helps me to overcome those hurdles. And I haven’t come to realize this on my own. Part of it is having had allies and mentors. I’ve had a very consistent mentor over the years who’s really helped guide me so I can get to that place that I want to get to.
Describe a “typical” work day.
Garcia: I start very early. I like to get into the office between 6:30 and 7 a.m., which allows me to catch up and plan ahead. Shortly after is when meetings and presentations get started. It’s a very full day. I also have a 7-year-old and a 2-year-old, and when I get home around 6 p.m., I’m helping with homework, getting the girls ready for bed and spending time with family. My husband is also in the industry, so he understands the demands of the field.
Are you seeing an increase in the number of women entering the CRE business?
Garcia: I am seeing an increase, but we need more diverse women with diverse perspectives and ideas to join the industry. That’s how we’re building the fabric of our city. It’s slow, but it’s happening.
Why do you think there aren’t more women in this business?
Garcia: Between the hurdles that I mentioned before—having to prove yourself not just to other men, but other women, too—and women wanting to be successful, and knowing it takes time, effort and hard work, women are also wanting to be moms and wives and participants in our community, all of that takes time. Women tend to have to make the choice of where to focus, but if more companies were making conscious efforts to be more welcoming of different perspectives and having flexibility with differing life demands, more women would join the industry. One of the things that I love about Related Midwest is that they embrace and encourage individual voices.
What do you enjoy most about commercial real estate?
Garcia: Starting a new project. It’s thinking through, “How do we do this? Who do we work with? How can we embrace the community we’re working in?” All of those front-end questions and being purposeful in how we approach a project is what excites me most about the work we’re doing.
What advice would you give to other women interested in entering the field?
Garcia: There is a need for women in this industry. Not only would I encourage them to go for it, but I would also let them know that it’s important to meet other people and develop relationships. Whether it be architecture, construction, management, etc., there’s plenty of opportunity for women to participate.