Santa Clara business owner Misha Homara knows firsthand what it’s like to be a woman in a male-dominated industry. As the CEO of Tricore Panels, Homara is a member of the 10.9% of women that worked in the construction industry in 2022. This according to the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC).
It’s the lack of representation in an industry that she loves that has driven Homara to help advocate for more women in construction and encourage young women to consider careers in the field.
“I mean, I wish I had someone that was like guiding me and like showing me the way,” said Homara.
Homara is a NAWIC board member and helped organize the Bay Area’s Women in Construction week* (March 3 – 11). The week ended with an event at her business on George Street in Santa Clara.
“We ended it with a kind of community day where we invited high schoolers to come and actually get a feel of what it’s like to be in the construction industry,” said Homara.
Attendees had an opportunity to meet with women who currently work in the construction industry. They also had the chance to learn more about the roles available to them, not all of them in the construction yard.
“I think it had a big impact for the kids that were there,” said Homara. “I think it’s a very technology driven era now, and with construction, technology has made a drastic impact this past decade and I think things are going to be shifting even more so in the next decade. And with their expertise, this new generation, there’s a huge area, like in construction tech, that they can get involved in.
“We were telling them about programming and designing on AutoCAD and how they can transition from there into potentially project engineering and project management,” continued Homara. “Or working their way in from the trades. So, starting as a helper and pushing their way up through installing and potentially becoming foremen and superintendents and project managers and that avenue.”
Homara does not just advocate for more women in the industry nationally, she also tries to do it within her own business, Tricore Panels. Currently, 28% of the people working at the company are women, but she’s hoping to reach 50% in the next five years. She wants the men in her company to be a part of the change.
“[We] educate the men around us that this is changing, and with their help, we’re going to expedite that,” said Homara. “So, we always train our team in regards to kind of being ‘that guy.’ So, if they see something on the field that shouldn’t be happening, or if they see there’s not a porta potty dedicated for women on the field, to speak up and be the person initiating that change.”
She understands that it’s an uphill battle, but she’s optimistic about the end result.
“There’s going to be people, in all industries, right, that aren’t going to want change or going to be receptive to it,” said Homara. “But having the people on your team that are going to be those driving factors, have the conversations, right, because I think a lot of it’s in regards to educating each other and being able to just hold those conversations.
“Even when it is challenging, using data and showing the reasons why we need to help, and hopefully, it’ll have an impact on them,” continued Homara. “But at the end of the day, I think there are enough people that want to see the change that we’re going to be able to drive it through.”
*Sponsors for the Women in Construction week included Pacific Ridge Builders, Bothman Construction, Swinerton, Silicon Valley Mechanical, WCOE California, TriCore Panels, Rosendin, Bear Electrical Solutions, Expert Drywall Systems, Proven Connections Group, Santa Cruz County Bank and Trufusion.