In the corporate world, some people couldn’t imagine breaking through stereotypes that society has hammered into our minds. But for building science major Caitlyn Gullatte, gender-specific jobs and lower salaries are only myths.
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The Auburn native is one of three girls in her class of 30 students, automatically making her a minority by a landslide. “As I’ve gotten older it’s become second-nature. If there’s a lot of girls in my class, I kind of get confused,” she says with a laugh.
Gullatte adds that she and her female classmates stick closely together. In January, the girls will grow even closer when they become roommates on a three-month building science study abroad trip.
Gullatte grew up initially wanting to pursue a career in architecture, but her plans tweaked when she became older. “I realized that my skill set was less in the creative design aspect and more of the execution of the project…so I got really into the construction process and the management side of things instead.”
This realization gave her the drive to apply to Auburn University’s building science program at the beginning of her freshman year, and she has relentlessly pursuing her career ever since.
A self-professed tomboy, Gullatte says that she gets along well with her male classmates being one of the only girls in the program has worked well for her.
“I’m really sarcastic and boys aren’t really sensitive, so it kind of works out. Boys are different, and you have to get used to that…especially in the construction industry, there are so many types of personalities.”
Gullatte says that for a woman to have presence in the construction industry, self-assurance and confidence are key. She adds that once respect is earned from fellow male coworkers, being a woman can be an advantage because men often respond better.
“The biggest hurdle as a girl is the respect thing. You have to be aware that that’s going to be difficult, but you can’t take it personally either. Prove yourself and be confident in what you know.”
As a project management intern at Brasfield and Gorrie in Birmingham, Gullatte learned that construction was definitely the job for her. She says that working with other women allowed her to gain good advice and learn a thing or two about the do’s and don’ts for women in the industry.
“They always offer interesting perspectives on their experience. One girl told me, ‘Don’t ever wear a pink hardhat…the boys will never let you live it down!’”
As for the future, Gullatte expects that her career choice will lead her to continue working side-by-side with men, but she says her studies at Auburn have prepared her well.
Once graduated, Gullatte plans to become a project manager for a large construction company, but she intends to eventually work in historic preservation, a long-time ambition.
“A lot of people wonder about their major and if it’s the right thing, but I’ve been fortunate enough to know that [building science] is really where I need to be. I’m going to stick with it,” she says.