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#UpWithHer: Rock star engineer is making strides to help women in construction industry

Women like Colleen Martindale make up only 10% of the construction and engineering industry.

"Don’t judge a book by its cover." It’s an idiom people have been using for generations.  

It applies to a Dallas engineer who can rock a hard hat during the day and also rocks out on stage at night.

"I play lead guitar in an 80s hair metal band with all females, and that’s the one I always get a lot of questions about," Colleen Martindale said.

Martindale is a natural performer.  

"I’ve been playing the guitar since I was seven years old," she said.

She stunned everyone in college when she switched majors from jazz guitar to engineering.  

"The advisor that took my application and looked at me like I had lost my mind," Martindale said. 

During the day, Martindale is an Estimating Director of Heavy Civil at McCarthy Building Companies. She has more than a decade of experience.  

Martindale says music and engineering jive together. 

"There’s a mathematical component to music, it kind of speaks to that creative side of your brain and engineers have that too. You like to build, you like to design," Martindale said.

Women like Martindale make up only 10% of the construction and engineering industry. 

"There wasn’t somebody for me to emulate and I wonder sometimes what my career would look like if I had that," Martindale said.

She stepped up to work with her company’s "Partnership for Women" to remove barriers for women’s success.  

"While we’re focusing on barriers that impeded the success of women in our industry many of those things affect the men as well so, we’re helping to drive culture change in a positive direction. All the studies show that a more diverse workplace results in better business results," she said.

And in the last five years, efforts have paid off. Martindale said the number of women coming into the industry has outpaced overall growth. 

"We look at really striving to attack some of the things like confidence, encouraging women to own their development, to help get them promoted faster, get them into the field and give them more experience so that way they can compete," Martindale said.

Martindale knows all about competition. Outside of her band, she’s also a Flamenco dancer.  

"I do like performing, it’s a really great outlet. It’s a great stress reliever. One of the things that I tell the women I work with is to have something in your life that really brings you joy. Something that can be an outlet for you outside of work," Martindale said.

She added it's important to surround yourself with supportive people because she says it will encourage you to take risks.  

"We need to be less afraid of failure, it happens and that’s how to become more resilient," Martindale said.