“I got my start in construction early in life, actually,” she said. “My father, a US Air Force officer of 28 years, was also a civil engineer. So looking at plans and blueprints (the old fashioned kind!) is something I vividly remember my Dad combing through in his home office. Of course, I would take a peek from time to time as well. I remember taking a drafting class in high school with a T-square and a light table.”
After high school, Jencson trained as a graphic designer and spent 14 years working in the commercial printing industry. From there, she and her husband purchased a window cleaning franchise that did construction clean-up for brand new homes, her first adult-world intro to construction. Her next business venture “really took a deep dive into construction because general contractors and custom home builders were now my ideal clients,” she said.
“I found out extremely fast that there were not a lot of women doing what I was doing. I was no longer able to relate to women at “normal” networking functions. They didn’t know the lingo. They didn’t know the challenges. And they didn’t know my ideal clients.”
“It is just a challenge to be a female walking on the construction site. Instantly your credibility is questioned. Are you capable? Can you do this job? Can you perform it just like a guy could? Are your credentials there? Are you educated? These are the things that run through people’s minds when they see you on the job site as a woman. I often get asked how long have I been working with the company and I have to politely let people know that I own the company.”
“So, I went on a mission, of sorts, to find out where women in construction hung out. And where did more of my ideal clients hang out? This is when I discovered NAWIC in 2014 and I have never looked back.”
“NAWIC is a great organization because of its members. These women are supportive and love lifting up other women as we all reach for our career goals. Not to mention the continuing education opportunities for women through the NAWIC Education Foundation. NAWIC has empowered me to step into my leadership abilities and be the example for other women within the construction industry. I have become a better boss and a better mentor to other women!”
Jencson founded Girder Skirts™ in 2013. While about 11% of construction workers are female, only about 2% are women in the trades. Girder Skirts offers networking, education and support to tradeswomen, including a Facebook page and a YouTube channel.
“Some advice that I would give to other women coming into the trades is make sure you have a strong sense of self. . . . if you are just starting out, you want to make sure you have your tools and you are in your work clothes and you are ready to get dirty and get to work as soon as you show up on the job site.”
“All of the tradeswomen out there doing it every single day, whether it is welding, pipefitting, landscaping, painting, being a mechanic . . . any of those kinds of positions where you are excelling and becoming an expert in your industry, you inspire me. And this is why I do what I do, because we need to be here for each other as tradeswomen and we need to build each other up.”
Since 2020, Jencson has been serving as NAWIC’s Tradeswomen Industry Council Chair. In addition, she has served as the 2020-2022 Pikes Peak Chapter 356 President and the 2021 PSW Region PD&E Chair. At the NAWIC 67th Annual Conference in August, Jencson will present The 3 A’s of Recruiting and Retaining a Sustainable Workforce. Learn more about Jencson and her breakout session.