Women in Construction Week Spotlight: Karen Newhouse

Posted on Mar 8, 2022 by Miron Construction

As part of Women in Construction Week 2022, we’re highlighting the women of Miron Construction – their backgrounds, what got them into construction, and what both rewards and challenges them. We hope these features inform and inspire you!

Karen Newhouse – Director of Lean Construction

  • What made you interested in a career in construction? I was always good with math and science in school and then had the opportunity to take a drafting/woodworking course in middle school. I came across MSOE and their architectural engineering degree and thought that would mesh well with my strengths in math and science. I really had no idea what a career would look like, nor that I would end up as a project manager rather than a structural engineer, so I came to construction mostly by accident.
  • What are some challenges you face in your role as a woman in construction? Having to fight harder than my male counterparts for getting assigned to run large projects, in getting promotions, and breaking through the “glass ceiling”, specifically in Operations. I see a lot of women executives in construction companies in almost every other department but Operations.
  • Why is it important for women to get involved in construction? I personally don’t think it is necessarily important to have women in construction. What I do believe is that any person, regardless of race or gender, should have an equal opportunity to do what they want and what they enjoy without having any biases applied to them beyond ability.
  • Did you have a female mentor, or are you a mentor to another female? If so, why are those experiences so valuable? I have not had a female mentor but, have mentored someone else that came into the industry late in their career. It is nice because I am so proud of all that she has accomplished and because it gives me another peer with which to share experiences – both good and bad.
  • What advice would you give to other young women who are interested in construction as a career? Go for it! Don’t let anyone or anything stop you. As long as you work hard, it is a very rewarding career.
  • What is the most rewarding part of your job? Helping people be successful.  Oftentimes this is helping them solve problems or teaching them new tools to make their job easier.
  • What has been your favorite project you have worked on?  A hospital remodel out in Sacramento, CA. I learned the majority of what I now know about lean construction, I got to work on a co-located team that included the owner and the architects, and we were expected to try new things and if we failed it was OK.
  • What are some challenges you face in your role? In my current role as the Director of Lean Construction it is getting people to learn new methods for doing what many people have been doing for years and decades. Fortunately there are many people that see the benefits of lean and are excited to see what we can gain by applying it to our work.

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