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August 21, 2014 10:05 PM

Woman-Owned Highway Construction Company

Sioux Falls, SD

There are nearly eight million women owned businesses in the U.S.  But only eight percent of construction businesses are owned by women. 

Kari Karst may be small in stature, but she has a big job as the owner of a highway construction company.  She had encouragement at a young age to enter the male-dominated field.

"My dad was in the construction business; worked through the industry.  So I think he saw opportunities for women," Karst said.

Karst says being a woman hasn't held her back in her career.

"If you're working with somebody who has a little attitude against it, you really just have to try to overcome by being better," Karst said.

Karst has grown her company, BX Civil & Construction with four times as many employees as when she started and six times the revenue.  Half her staff members are women and she's tried to incorporate some flexibility into construction work.

"I think that's the where the world is at now--you have to figure out ways to find flexibility in order to keep good employees," Karst said.

Karst says one problem she sees is that not enough women are attracted to the construction industry any more than they were 20 years ago.  She says that may be due to the misconception about the job itself. 

"For three summers of my college career I was actually out on a bridge deck doing construction. And it really wasn't that hard for me," Karst said.

While all skilled workers are in high demand in the construction industry, Karst is trying to figure out a way to get more women in these good-paying jobs.

"50 percent of the world is female, and we don't even try to address the fact we don't get females in our industry. It is a big issue and it's a big issue at all levels," Karst said.

Karst will be speaking at the upcoming Women's Business Conference in Yankton on Friday September 12. She'll talk about communicating in a male dominated industry.

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