PART OF THE COOL CLUB: Mary B. Cool, a designer for California Closets, has been a member of the local chapter of the Professional Women in Building for about a year. Pictured above is Cool, left, with homeowner and client Arletta Ashe and master installer Dave Kazvkiewicz.
Before the Great Recession took hold in 2009, a group known here as Professional Women in Building had 20 members. By 2012, that number had plummeted to seven.
Today, the group, a local chapter of the National Association of Home Builders PWB and a counterpart to the Rhode Island Builders Association, has 26 members and like RIBA, is growing, says Cheryl Boyd, an immediate past president who led the professional development group through the downturn and beyond.
The years of 2012 and 2013 were rebuilding years, Boyd said.
“We kept a very high profile,” she said. “The networking was really key. Everybody had a renewed interest in networking because, before, you didn’t have to advertise; you were just busy. Now people realize the importance of making connections professionally and for their business.”
The method to reinvigorating the organization included an awareness campaign dedicated to persistently promoting the group’s programs to women.
“RIBA has an award-winning magazine,” Boyd said. “We took advantage of that to promote our programs and meetings and keep content relevant to women and promote networking.”
Professional Women in Building’s 26 members are a fraction of the 1,087 women members in the national organization, said Sheronda L. Carr, NAHB Professional Women in Building director.
That total, in turn, is about 7 percent of the national association, she said in an email, a ratio that’s held steady since 2010.
Mary B. Cool, a designer for California Closets, values her new Rhode Island PWB membership, which is about a year old.
“I think it’s very important, because the building trades have been an all-male environment for a long time and now women are coming in and adding a whole other perspective, bringing the consumer and user into the equation,” she said. “It’s like the Yin and Yang: you need men and women in building to make it work.”