Construction management student breaks barriers

Maggie Eubanks, News Editor

ULM is renowned for its programs in pharmacy and nursing, but another major is gaining steam and making its mark. The School of Construction Management boasts a 100% passage rate on licensing exams and an equal percentage of job placement rates after graduation. 

But construction management is a predominantly male field. According to the National Association of Women in Construction, females only make up 9% of all construction jobs. 

But junior construction management major Jade Case wants to change the perception of women in the construction industry. 

“Don’t think that you can’t do it if you’re a woman because construction management does sound like a man’s world,” Case said. “I think right now it is, but there are more women joining the construction industry than ever.”

Case is right about this. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of women in construction grew from 5.9% in 2003 to the 9% they are at now. But Case said it can still be hard for girls in the program because of the pressure to feel like they need to change themselves.  

“I thought about trying to make myself seem more masculine, but you don’t have to change yourself,” Case said. “You can be feminine and be in construction management.”

The field of construction management wasn’t something Case always thought about. But as a New Orleans native, she noticed the problems that the construction industry was facing, and she knew she could be part of the solution. 

“I already knew before I even decided to go into this degree that there were problems in the construction management industry, and I’m the type of person where, if I see a problem, I want to be one of the people that change it,” Case said. “For example, the Hard Rock Hotel in New Orleans, when that crashed down, it was very much an obvious sign that something was very wrong in the industry.” 

The Hard Rock Hotel collapsed in October 2019. According to The New York Times, the building was still under construction when the structure collapsed, and the disaster killed three workers. Many, including Case, believe that if a construction manager had been onsite, things might have turned out differently. 

But Case isn’t only driven by tragedy. Her three-year-old niece reminds Case to be an example that women can do anything they set their minds to. 

“No matter if she’s a woman or not,” Case said. “I really want to show her that anything’s possible.”

ULM supports her in this dream. Case said that no one has treated her differently for being a woman since the day she stepped foot on the Bayou. In fact, the professors in the program have done nothing but help prepare her for the professional world. 

“It’s very much a family at ULM. No matter how you identify, we all care about each other,” Case said. “Nobody has looked down on me or doubted me because I’m a woman.”

Case helps to lead this culture of family and support in the program as the vice president of the construction management honors society, Sigma Lambda Chi, and as a member of the Construction Management Student Association. She was quick to point out that women serve in leadership roles in both of these organizations proving that the program is ready to support the women who choose to take on the challenge of construction management. 

Case has also won multiple scholarships for her academic achievements in the program. This school year, she was awarded the Women in Construction Scholarship and the Hollis Graham Endowment Memorial Scholarship in Construction. Case said she “can’t thank scholarships enough for supporting her.”

When Case graduates next year, she plans on going into project management or construction insurance, so she can help prevent tragedies from occurring through sound leadership and planning. 

Case said she knows that despite the challenges she will face being a woman, she will have the backing of all the women who came before her that are already in the field doing amazing things.

“When women are entering the field, they are doing bigger and better things,” Case said. 

Case encouraged girls thinking about applying to the construction management program at ULM to have confidence in themselves and know they will have a community of girls that will support them from the beginning.

“Women overall need to know that this is an option for them and that it is a good option for them,” Case said. “Don’t hesitate to apply, and don’t hesitate to try it. If it doesn’t work out for you, then it doesn’t work out for you. It’s not for everybody, but it is an option, and if you love it, you love it.”