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Women in Skilled Trades

How Creating Opportunities Can Diversify the Skilled Trades

When Army Sgt. Kristy Mathews made the decision to transition from a military to civilian career, she enrolled in the first cohort of HBI’s Building Construction Technology program at Fort Stewart Army Base in Georgia in the spring of 2015. 

Despite normal concerns about entering a civilian career, Mathews didn’t hesitate to enter a male-dominated field.

“I was not at all concerned about finding my place because I already had lived it,” she said. “I was the only female in my platoon for five years.”

After graduating from the HBI program, Mathews worked for CSX Transportation Corporation as a communications technician, but she quickly sought a greater challenge and founded her own commercial contracting firm, K&B Concepts and Solutions in Jacksonville, Florida.

Changing an industry

As the industry looks for ways to increase the diversity of its labor force, Mathews said it’s critical for women to see others like them succeed in non-traditional jobs.

“We need more women out there recruiting and mentoring other women,” she said. “That is only one solution to the problem, but to me, it’s the most important one.”

As the first tradeswoman to chair the National Association of Home Builders’ Professional Women in Building Council, Darylene Dennon echoes Mathews’ call and is working to open the door of opportunity for even more women. 

Dennon is focused on mentoring other women and ensuring they have a seat at the table, and offers advice for women interested in construction. 

“Stand tall. Don’t worry about being scrutinized; don’t worry about making mistakes,” she said. “We need you there. We need you to take the lead, then make the changes within it.”

PWB councils around the country offer mentorship programs and opportunities for women to grow in their careers. Learn more at can also learn more about HBI’s programs across the country at

Gregory Zick, Consultant, Affiliate Services, National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), [email protected]

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