How can women make a difference in the infrastructure arena? That was the question posed to attendees at the sixth annual Women in Concrete Luncheon & Forum at World of Concrete. The event's three speakers all had their own take on the topic.

Kelly Page, executive/technical director for the International Concrete Repair Institute, identified the bridge market, with an estimated $9 billion of needed repairs, and the wastewater segment, on the brink of spending about $390 billion over the next 20 years, as major segments for the future.

Page stressed that women get involved in associations, stay educated about the issues, and urge politicians to increase infrastructure spending. She strongly encouraged involvement to keep politicians focused on infrastructure needs. “Get your association members to write to their local congressmen,” she said.

Diana Sanicki, marketing manager for Doka, Little Ferry, N.J., tries to promote efficiency and new ideas to concrete contractors as they look to specialized infrastructure areas such as bridges, which is a new source for growth.

“We have to adapt our formwork specifically for infrastructure projects,” said Sanicki. “We've had to change our strategy and provide custom solutions.” For infrastructure, this involves developing forms for different types of structures, such as towers and bridges.

Kari Yuers, president and CEO of Kryton International, Vancouver, B.C., a manufacturer of waterproofing products for contractors, added, “Concrete has been around for thousands of years. Yet the transformations and innovations happening now are likely to create the same exponential changes we've seen in the information technology world. We are in an amazing and unprecedented moment in history. Population shifts, innovations in concrete technology, and the integration and impact of women in the workforce are creating many opportunities.”

Yuers spoke about concrete innovations that are important for infrastructure projects. These include photocatalytic cement, that when exposed to sunlight, resists pollutants; cement that reduces carbon emissions in the production process; and transparent cement, created by bonding special resins, in which insulated, light-transmitting construction panels can be manufactured so buildings consume less light.

Kari Moosmann is cofounder of the Women in Concrete Alliance, an online networking resource for women in the concrete industry. E-mail [email protected]. Visit to follow the group on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

A Woman of Distinction

Attendees at the Women in Concrete Luncheon & Forum voted Rosa Olivia Becerra, owner/president of Cortamex, a diamond blade supplier in Tijuana, Mexico, as the first recipient of the Woman of Distinction award which honors a woman in the industry who shows dedication to her field and makes a difference to those around her.

Becerra was honored for her dedication to her customers. “This is a touching and proud moment in my career,” she said. “The success I have had is founded on the beliefs that if you work hard and are passionate about what you do, you will be rewarded, regardless of gender. Combine this thinking with exceeding customer expectations and you have my formula for running my company.”

Becerra began her construction career as a bookkeeper at her brother's concrete demolition company and eventually became its leader.

“Take the time to find out where your customer feels he or she needs improvement,” she advised. “Then go out and find a way to help that situation. Resolve the issue one time and they will be happy. Do it a second time and they will be surprised. Do it a third time and you have a loyal customer.”

The Woman of Distinction award is sponsored by the Women in Concrete Alliance.