Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Power of Pink: Building Confidence, Contractor Demolishes Stereotypes

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Power of Pink: Building Confidence, Contractor Demolishes Stereotypes

Article excerpt

OKLAHOMA CITY - Women represent only 2.6 percent of the construction industry workforce, according to a study by the National Women's Law Center. But Deemah Ramadan is a big force in the small margin.

Ramadan is CEO and managing partner at Design+Build Group, a commercial construction company. She started the company in 2007, just a few months before the economy crashed. Since the company started, its mission has been to make the construction experience enjoyable.

"When you say to someone that you're a general contractor, they always take two steps back," she said. "We set out to change the name of the general contractors."

But Ramadan is working against more than the stereotype. In her high heels and pink hard hat, she shows the male-dominated construction industry that women can erect buildings, too.

She said she's fought the female stereotype since her first construction job. At that time, she was working with Home Creations and had designed a pad thai restaurant. She eventually became the project's general contractor after she left Home Creations.

"I would call (subcontractors) and they didn't show up," she said. "They would try to rake me over on price."

She often has people talk to her about a project in really broad terms because they don't think she'll understand. Then she'll ask them specific questions, which will make them realize that she knows the industry.

She even had a conversation once where the man asked to speak to her boss because he wanted to see eye-to-eye with the caller. She put the man on hold, and then picked back up the phone and continued the conversation.

"He sends us the best Christmas presents now," she said with a laugh.

Ramadan is not alone fighting the gender stereotype in her field, but there aren't many women helping her. According to the National Women's Law Center study, there are more than 7.6 million male construction workers in the U.S., but only 206,000 women construction employees.

"I lose more jobs because I'm not part of the good old boys' club," she said.

Conversely, Ramadan was invited to bid on a job because she's a woman. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport is renovating Terminal D and requested women and disadvantaged businesses to bid on the project. …

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