AISC Celebrates Women in Construction Week: Friday Edition

Heather Kurtenbach, Business Agent/Organizer, Ironworkers Local 86

It's Women in Construction Week, and we're celebrating by highlighting an array of women in the steel industry every day this week. Today, we're featuring Heather Kurtenbach, a business agent/organizer with Ironworkers Local 86 in Tukwila, Wash. Find out how she got her start in the industry, what challenges she's had to overcome, and what changes she'd like to see for the industry moving forward.

How did you get your start in the industry? 
Kurtenbach: I got my start in my trade after being released from prison. I heard about the ironworkers from a relative. No one would hire me, not even to flip burgers, so I put my application in, got invited to evaluation day, and was accepted!

What barriers or challenges have you had to overcome as a female in the industry?  
Kurtenbach: I prefer to look at those as opportunities to excel. 

What piece of advice would you give to your 10-year-old self? 
Believe in myself. It's okay to not fit the "mold." Graduate high school. Don't do drugs.

What changes would you like to see for the future of the industry?
Kurtenbach: I would like to see more women in the roles of superintendent, etc. We are getting there, but there's still so far to go!

For more information about Women in Construction Week, visit