As an instructor in PSU’s School of Construction, Jenny McCool-O’Dell has seen the increase in the number of women pursuing careers in the field firsthand.

Jenny McCool

Jenny McCool

“While women are still in the minority in the construction industry, our numbers are definitely going up,” McCool-O’Dell said. “It’s not just a career for men anymore.”

Spreading that message and empowering women in the field is the goal of the new southeast Kansas chapter of the National Association of Women in Construction, of which McCool-O’Dell is the first president.

“The growth of construction in the area, as well as an increasing number of female students in the construction management program in the School of Construction at PSU brought to the forefront the need for a woman-focused construction association in the area,” said Beverly Sauerwein, NAWIC Region 6 director.

The new chapter serves communities in southeast Kansas and southwest Missouri. McCool-O’Dell said the group’s main focus is bringing together regional women in construction for “networking and mentoring.”

Shontae Cobb, a junior construction management major from Kansas City, Mo., is the president of the Women in Construction student group, which is now a part of the SEK chapter of NAWIC. She said she’s excited about the regional chapter and the added attention it brings to women in construction.