Women in Construction Week: Star Morris
Taking advantage of opportunities and trying new things led Estimator Star Morris to a career in construction unexpectedly.
“I didn’t know if construction was a place for me,” Star Morris said. “When I initially thought about construction, I honestly thought of working outdoors and men. I didn’t know if that was a place for me.”
Star came to Pence as a temporary secretary just over a year ago. She was in the midst of earning her Bachelor’s degree at the University of Oregon and was working during the summer before heading back to school. After graduation, a full-time position opened and Star took it while weighing her options, deciding where to go with her career. Through her interactions with the various components of construction at Pence she found herself curious about estimating.
“I became interested in what Bruce was doing,” she said. Bruce Turner is the Chief Estimator at Pence. “When I told Paul [one of two company owners] I was curious about estimating he smiled and walked straight to Bruce’s office. There was no talk about what I couldn’t do or shouldn’t do. It felt natural.”
“You have to be comfortable in your own skin. [A]nd that goes for any field, really. You have to have personal confidence.”
Star’s decision to grow into estimating has been good for both her and the company. “She started with the very basics, but is a very fast study and is learning the trade as quickly as I have seen,” said Bruce Turner.
Being a woman in construction does come with the occasional stereotypes. Star is not always immediately recognized as one of the general contractor’s representatives at job walks. “Subcontractors have walked right past me not realizing that I’m the one working for the GC,” she said. “You have to be comfortable in your own skin. It doesn’t affect me in a way that I feel bad or like I don’t belong and that goes for any field, really. You have to have personal confidence.”
Star says her eyes have been opened to the possibilities in general contracting, far beyond what she was initially aware of. “People don’t realize there is more to it,” she said. “There is a place for women in the construction field. I see it here. It’s growing.”
While this industry is often viewed as one primarily welcoming to men, Star has seen firsthand how simply showing talent and a willingness to learn is far more indicative of one’s career trajectory than gender.
“Being hospitable and constructive, looking past gender, will make any field that is male-dominated a better place. Within this office, I have never felt that I was “too girly” or “too feminine” to get the job done. Both men and women have the capability to bring different qualities to the table and I think Pence is aware of that.”
Communications Director, Pence Construction