Rochester, NY - For Mary Ellen Joy Belding, breaking into the construction business wasn't always easy.
She joked that as she moved up the ladder and became a manager, she worried she would get "thrown into the concrete" on construction sites.
For Belding, construction was a second career. But now, she can't imagine doing anything else.
She said working for large construction companies helped "pave the way for her."
She is now President of Structural Remediation Services. It's a small company that has tackled some big projects.
They did the concrete removal work for the Irondequoit Bay Bridge Project, built the steps leading into the Civic Center Plaza downtown and are doing sidewalks and other concrete work for the Rochester City School District's School Moderization project.
Belding said she learns the most from her workers in the field, "They have taught me. I learn from them."
She also works with young women as a mentor, encouraging them to consider a career in the construction field. Her company also offers scholarships to high school females.
During National Women in Construction week, which is this week, Belding is helping to spread the word about the value of women in this once predominantly male field.
There are 18-hundred women in Monroe County who work in construction jobs.
They aren't just waving flags and directing traffic.
They are building things, pouring concrete, managing projects and owning companies.
Belding has also encouraged colleagues to learn all they can about the field so they can move up the ladder.
Paula Randall has only been at Structural Remediation for about six months, but she knows already what she hopes to do someday. " I want to own my own business."
Belding said there are so many opportunities for women in this field. She credits the companies who hired her in the beginning for giving her opportunities that once were not available to women.