Building Women Strong

Cape Cod Life  /  April 2023 /

Writer: Cape Cod Life Publications

Building Women Strong


Cape Cod Life  /  April 2023 /

Writer: Cape Cod Life Publications

If you were to assume the Cape Cod building industry is exclusively made-up of strong, able-bodied men who are responsible for imagining, building, and maintaining the varied collection of homes across the region—you would be wrong.

It was a typical Cape Cod day in March on the Outer Cape. The wind off the water felt as though ice molecules were side-by-side with moist saltwater-based droplets; the kind of brisk breeze that leaves your hair, your clothes and any other exposed surface just a bit damp and on the verge of freezing. A well-dressed man, in an executive looking automobile, pulled up to a jobsite for an impressive home in the early stages of construction. Nothing at first glance identified what the future held for this precious piece of seaside real estate—no white mailbox post with a hand-painted street address, no seashell driveway flanked by tailored landscape beds and a manicured lawn, no shingled structure with spiffy white trim and coordinated shutters to welcome a lucky family and all their visitors. Instead, clay-like sand native to the Cape covered the ground from lot line to lot line. Frozen, rutted tire tracks crisscrossed the ground as they led to a staging area filled with a seemingly disorganized organization of building materials and tools. 

As the man strode across the site to the closest human who was bent over a section of framing, he called out in a raised voice to be heard over the pneumatic nail guns, “I’m looking for the man in charge!” The worker, Mackenzie Sisson, straightened, as a wisp of blond hair appeared between the hood of the heavy sweatshirt and baseball cap that struggled to keep the wind at bay, squinting with eyes as blue as the ocean beyond, and a beaming smile, turned and answered, “You found her.”


Mackenzie Sisson • Supervisor/Project Manager  • Homes by Sisson

Mackenzie Sisson

Mackenzie Sisson represents the second generation of her family’s design-build business based in East Orleans. Having built a reputation on building high-end custom homes for the past 34 years, Mackenzie’s parents, Scott and Randi, built their business, like their high-quality homes, from the ground up. Now their daughter Mackenzie, who says she gets her work ethic and commitment to client satisfaction from her parents, has stepped up to take on the duties as project manager. Sisson says her journey to the job site took a few paths before settling back on the Cape. Receiving a degree in Exercise Science, subsequent career choices left her unfulfilled. “I knew in my heart I was a Cape Codder,” she explains. “So, coming back to the Cape, I got my Master’s in Education and tried that for a bit, but really, time spent around my parents’ business is where I felt most at home.” Responsibilities started with cleaning up the site throughout the day, and small tasks too menial for carpenters, but so critical to a well-functioning and productive crew. Ten years later, Sisson understands the value of starting on the bottom rung, and says every day brings new things to be learned and adopted. “All of our team members have been mentors to me at one time or another, whether it has been through explanation or example, I have worked with some of the best artisans and carpenters around.”

Sisson says her proudest accomplishments have evolved with her career, “Ten years ago, it would have been siding my first house and lacing the corners correctly. Five years ago, it would have been mastering kitchen cabinetry. Today, it’s a special project where we took on remodeling a fire-damaged shell of a house and gave the owners back a home.” She also says confidence is one of the most important tools in her belt, and her natural physicality doesn’t hurt. “I have been second guessed when it comes to certain tasks, like a lumber or window delivery,” she explains. “I often get, ‘Do you have any guys here to unload?’ They don’t consider a woman as being capable of handling it; until I grab the first window or sheet of plywood off the truck.

April Ducott and Linda Miner

Linda Miner • Account Manager • Mid-Cape Home Centers

Linda Miner has spent almost two decades in the construction industry, with a Construction Supervisor License (CSL) for 15 of those years. Miner says for her, the societal perception of this industry being a male exclusive profession isn’t something she spends time thinking about. “For me, I came to building naturally through my interest in the creative process and working with my hands. That’s it,” she states. “In my experience, regardless of gender, entering into and advancing within the building industry requires acquisition of skills and knowledge. That journey is transformative no matter who you are.”

Miner cites a former boss as one of her greatest mentors. “When I was new to the craft of timber-framing, my boss at the time helped me hone my skills, and expected nothing less than my best as we restored antique frames together with the patience of a master framer and curiosity of a neophyte to this historic way of building.” she recalls. That commitment to excellence is what Miner brings to the table in her current role as an account manager at Mid-Cape Home Centers. Her days are spent interacting and consulting with contractors as well as their clients, providing a liaison between what the clients want, and what the contractor deems possible. Often it is Miner’s experience and product understanding that helps reaches a successful outcome for all involved. “Hearing the appreciation from customers for my part in their build,” is what Miner says she is most proud of. Of her personal accomplishments, she says working on her own timber-frame projects fulfill her need for a  creative outlet. 

“The opportunities in this industry, particularly on the Cape are significant—for anyone. If the conversation associated with a career in construction was more comprehensive, we might go a long way to solving multi-dimensional problems that exist like labor shortages, job-training and viable career paths,” Miner affirms.

Sue Contonio • Vice President & Project Coordinator • McPhee Associates, Inc.

Sue Contonio

For those imagining what success looks like, Sue Contonio’s career in the building industry has been one to model. Starting in the real estate industry, her innate ability to absorb and disseminate information quickly qualified her for an opportunity as a project coordinator. Contonio has been in the industry for 24 years and has been a vital member of the McPhee team for almost a decade. Always eager to learn and continue to master her responsibilities, Contonio credits the seasoned tradespeople and other professionals for taking the time to answer her questions with answers that fully explained the “why” of it all. “They helped me understand their parts of the project, and how the puzzle pieces fit together,” she recalls. Her reflections of the industry and the opportunities for women clearly illustrate how a career in this industry involves so much more than the technical accomplishments, as she references the lessons she has learned from mentors like Jon Phillips, vice president and construction manager at McPhee. “He has shared his experiences and skills in all phases of the business: management of personnel, scheduling, organization and a whole lifetime of wisdom.” In addition, she sees opportunities specific to women that promote critical dynamics like client trust, and patience from tradespeople and mentors who take the time to teach her something valuable. She also sees a shift in the paradigm of what has been known as a male-dominated industry. “I think these days there are more women in the field—behind the scenes—than I have seen in the past. Every day involves a lot of collaboration with design and vendor teams which have always been men as well as women.”  

Lisa Norcross

Lisa Norcross • Project Manager • Eastward Companies

Lisa Norcross found her way to the building industry by way of a degree in Fashion Merchandising and Business. She had set her sights on law school and specifically a career in Trademark Law. Yet, years of working in retail and being active, and on her feet all day, cautioned her when considering a desk job. A job at an off-Cape construction firm quickly appealed to her inquisitive sense. “As I learned more, I became increasingly more interested in the field,” she explains. “I enjoy that every day is different, and while the projects can be fast-paced, I am always learning, which I love.” When pressed about obstacles she may have encountered as a women without formal construction training, Norcross says, “It takes time to create relationships, in any industry, and this industry in particular benefits from the connection between work history and future collaborations.” In addition, Norcross suggests that female clients are often put at ease when dealing with her and might even be more likely to ask for explanation of the elements of the project. She also confirms that when questions might be directed to someone else who may be perceived to know more or have more experience, she doubles down and makes sure she is more prepared, organized and willing to do what it takes to get things across the finish line. 


Jill Neubauer • Founder, Architect • Jill Neubauer Architects

Jill Neubauer

Arguably, architecture might have been one of the first avenues of inclusion for women drawn to the building industry, yet every accomplishment has been built upon the success of those who have come before. Many like Jill Neubauer were deaf to the barriers that might have discouraged some; she was just singularly focused on creating the never-ending structures and spaces her mind was constantly imagining. “It literally never occurred to me that I was entering a male dominated profession. I just wanted to be an architect,” Neubauer asserts. When asked about opportunities she makes an interesting point when she says, “Gender is not specifically the issue, but having less inherent confidence and ego is—that is what slows and reduces a trajectory.” Neubauer also recognizes the differing realities of how much time (and head space) can be dedicated to work between mothers and fathers. “When my children were young, I stood up from my desk when they were out of school and that was the end of my day. It was not the end of their father’s day—he was able to stay focused on his work and his career advanced at a much more robust pace,” she shares.

Neubauer says the challenges she has encountered have changed through the years, and suspects that will be the only thing that doesn’t change. “Challenges are part of running a business and they do change; they evolve,” she says. “The challenges have increased in recent years with factors beyond my control, like the lack of housing on Cape Cod, which threatens my ability to have a robust business with staff who are able to live here. I am only as good as my team.”

“I am pleased that I have had a compass for my life and family throughout my career. Being a woman is a gift as an architect,” she states. “As a woman I am given more space and opportunity to be a collaborator. When the men learn I respect their knowledge, skill and experiences, then we begin a rich collaboration; the respect is there.”

Leslie Schneeberger

Leslie Schneeberger • Associate Principal, Architect • SV Design

Leslie Schneeberger asserts that she has been an architect and an interior designer for most of her life. “From the things I played with as a child, to frequently rearranging my room—usually late into the night—there was a common theme,” she recalls. Her young childhood interests eventually led to internships at interior design and architecture firms throughout high school and college, and paved the way for where she is today. 

When examining how life has unfolded as a woman in the industry, Schneeberger says it has little to do with male versus female, “I find we are all treated differently depending upon how we approach situations. Personally, I have never been afraid to ask questions and I find that has helped me to establish relationships of respect with both men and women.” That willingness she acknowledges is also present in the next generation she sees entering the industry. “I feel the newest generation entering the work force is very open to learning from and helping each other. Inclusion is greater,” she observes. Schneeberger’s 25 years in the profession has afforded her an opportunity to regard her peers from a point of appreciation. “At the end of the day, after everyone has gone home, I often walk around the desks and see sketches of designs being worked out as well as pin-ups of inspirational materials and images,” she shares. “I get such a charge seeing signs that everyone is so engaged and thinking so deeply about what they do.”

Katelyn Manfredo • Senior Project Manager, Architect • SV Design

Katelyn Manfredo

When she was in junior high, Katelyn Manfredo’s parents designed and built their own home—laying the framework for her passion to become an architect. As she grew up living what her future clients would also experience through her own designs, Manfredo now approaches each project with confidence and her innate comfortable familiarity to designing a home. The skills she brings to her work have been honed by a variety of mentors including a senior project manager who trained her in design aesthetics and the technical details of residential architecture. Each building block of her career served as a path to her current mentor, Leslie Schneeberger (discussed earlier). “Having mentors with varying skills, knowledge, and different personalities have been major contributors to my growth and success in this industry.” 

When asked about what it means to be a woman in architecture, she says, “We as women understand the power of clear communication, we know how to build relationships to make them long lasting and we also know patience and that nothing is gained from short cuts. The path to success should be steady and can be long, but that’s what makes it rewarding.” Manfredo’s advice to young women: If you want something and are willing to put in the effort and work for it, it will happen. Have confidence in yourself and lean on others that can help you get there.”

Joy Cuming • Founder, Architect • Aline Architecture

Joy Cumming

Joy Cuming spent 15 years working in large corporate design offices, and most of that time she felt disillusioned. She illustrates the effect a great mentor can have when it comes to inspiring someone with talent and desire. “I joined Alan Dodge in 1994, an architect in Wellfleet who had a creative design studio,” she recalls. “He reinspired me to continue on in the field of architecture.” As Cuming first navigated her way through meetings at construction sites, she says she felt marginalized and would align herself with a male coworker to ensure she was heard. 

“I have always felt very supported by my clients, many of whom have expressed an interest in working with a woman,” Cuming says of the special relationship she has always been able to build with the people whose homes she is trusted to design. Cuming seems to be a product of the times, as her educational and field experience did in fact present assumptions and exclusions as directed toward a woman in a traditionally male-dominated field. When Cuming’s path veered toward a more modern sensibility, it always involved her proactive efforts to blaze her own trail. After being hired as a lecturer at a university’s school of architecture, “I started a support/consciousness raising group which helped support and encourage female graduates to stay in the field and become registered as architects,” she shares. “Over the five years I taught there, I saw more and more women enroll and succeed in a very challenging course.”

Today, after starting her own architecture and design-build practice with ten employees, Cuming says, “There are so many more women in the field today that I no longer feel like an extreme minority.”


Crystal Pieschel • Director of Marketing • Mid-Cape Home Centers

Crystal Pieschel

Marketing has been a great avenue for women over several decades. What makes Crystal Pieschel’s path different is what, to whom, and for whom she is providing marketing services. The building industry on the Cape intersects at Mid-Cape. With six sites across the region, servicing both retail and trade clients, Pieschel’s mission is one that requires constant support, understanding and expertise to provide solutions that work for contractors and homeowners alike. 

Pieschel says she is not intimidated that the majority of the workforce consists of males, primarily because she knows her strengths and is confident in what she can bring to the table. Colleagues who serve similar functions as her industry counterparts are often male and she finds that on business trips or in vendor meetings it is not uncommon that she will be the only woman. “I think my experience and sense of confidence in myself, makes it easier for everyone to see me as an equal member of the team,” she explains. “Additionally, I am lucky to have heightened people and communication skills—something I think many women possess—and I’ve learned how to use those skills to make deeper connections and approach situations differently than a man might. It becomes a value-adding differentiator.”

Pieschel iterates that the need to earn respect is an ongoing effort. “Earning and maintaining respect appears to be more challenging,” she says. “The magnifying glass on a woman’s actions is probably ten times the strength as the glass on a man’s actions. But with confidence and preparation, I know that I am capable of earning the respect of most of my peers, both the men and the women. And the women I respect practice the same commitment to excellence.”

Andrea Baerenwald • Director of Marketing • Agway of Cape Cod

Andrea Baerenwald

If Mid-Cape Home Centers is the backbone of the building industry, Agway of Cape Cod is arguably the fertile ground which fosters the landscape and green businesses across the Cape. Andrea Baerenwald, Agway’s Director of Marketing brings a depth of knowledge and understanding to her position as she was the Director of Marketing at the long-standing builder Cape Associates, Inc. for nearly a decade. Now for the past three years at Agway, Baerenwald has leveraged her understanding of building and design as she now supports the landscape community, while recognizing the mentors who have inspired and enabled her own journey. “So many strong and brave women have paved the way for me in my career,” she comments. “In fact, so much so that it’s rare that I experience gender bias in my day-to-day life. The problem remains though, so I say ‘rare’ instead of ‘never.’”

Baerenwald confirms her interest in pursuing a career within the Cape Cod home industry was driven by the industry’s booming presence. “When I moved here 15 years ago, it didn’t take long to learn what a vibrant and supportive community the local building industry is,” she explains. “When I attended my first Home Builders & Remodelers Association of Cape Cod (HBRACC, a local trade organization) meeting I was hooked. And even though my marketing responsibilities insulate me from the job site culture, that’s certainly not the only place where prejudice can happen.”

Baerenwald says the culture at Agway—50% women-owned and a leadership team comprised of 63% women—has been a highly supportive environment. “As individuals, we challenge each other and complement each other’s strengths,” she observes. “I believe that’s the key to erasing prejudice—cultivating company cultures that celebrate talent, capabilities and willingness to work hard.”


Cara Meneses • Founder, Builder • Archwright Fine Home Builders

Cara Meneses

Cara Meneses found her way to building fine homes and spaces of distinction, not by any targeted efforts of her own. “The industry chose me,” says the daughter of a builder who credits growing up surrounded by construction sites, tools and a multitude of projects. She shares that mentors like her father have influenced her throughout her life, including her husband (an industrial metal artisan), her business partner and countless colleagues. “I don’t think success is a handout for many in this industry, certainly not for me; it is earned,” she reflects. “I’ve grown alongside each individual I’ve teamed up with, only to improve together. The people I wish to surround myself with want to collaborate and help one another. This is one of the fundamental reasons why my business partner and I founded ARCHWRIGHT, it’s about the collaboration.”

Meneses, like many of the women discussed, entered the industry at a time where she has seen a positive progression, not only in the number of women involved at all phases and responsibilities, but also in the overall perception. “I think as a strong person (and a woman) in this profession I’ve grown from every obstacle I’ve encountered,” she explains. “One of my first interviews fresh out of school reminds me of how far I have come, and how far the industry has. The interview was for an administrative position, and about ¾ the way through, the owner of the company looked me directly in the eye and asked, ‘Do you cry easily? Because I can’t have that here.’ To which my response was, ‘Do you?’” 

Meneses has seen construction evolve and adds, “It’s fascinating to me. Yes, this field has been predominantly male driven but over the years it has become more inclusive. It takes a village to successfully design, manage and execute the build of any home.”

April Ducott • Founder, Builder • Monomoy Home Services

April Ducott

April Ducott has built a career and reputation synonymous with quality and hard work across the Cape. After a successful ten year run at a reputable construction firm as a senior project manager, Ducott recently decided to team up with her husband Sean, and launch a new chapter at Monomoy Home Services in Harwich. Ducott says she has been interested in the creative building process since she was young, and initially assumed architecture and design was what the respected career path looked like. “At that young age, I was empowered by naivety and I just didn’t know or understand that it was a male dominated profession,” she recalls. “What I did know was for me to be my best, I had to completely understand what I was drawing on paper. So, I went to a trade school to study carpentry. It was there I started to realize how much I enjoyed the tangible, hands-on aspect of the industry, the entire process, not just the design.”

Ducott’s ability to examine things from all sides is one of the qualities inherent in her success. When talking about the many mentors, from all walks of life, who have taught her different, but very important skills, she says, “I collected and filed them away to shape who I am today. There are so many ways to go about something, and I am forever grateful for different insights and perspectives.”

Ducott shares that challenges and obstacles are always part of the growth, yet perspective helps keep what is important in check. “With motherhood, I found I had to somehow split up 24 hours of the day between the two full time jobs—one that paid, and one that did not,” she explains. “There were never enough hours in the day, I found that I couldn’t give 100% at either job. It wore on me, but over time I learned to embrace my dual role and get creative on my approach. I knew in order to succeed, I had to find the right work/life balance. Home and family are important to me, and being in business for myself allows me to experience that on my own terms.”

Aleks Mazzeo • Founder, Builder • Mazzeo Construction, LLC

Aleks Mazzeo

Polish-born Aleks Mazzeo grew up within a family of engineers, including an uncle regarded as a locally renown architect, so pursuing a degree from Czestochowa University of Technology in Material Engineering and Applied Physics was a natural choice.

Mazzeo came to the United States in 2003, but didn’t land in the construction industry until four years later when they met Dennis Dwyer, a woodworker and carpenter who ultimately became their mentor. “He is the one who taught me the value of work, and the importance of every customer,” they recall. “It was an important lesson because the customer becomes part of your family for the duration of their project.” Mazzeo says those lessons have stuck as they now become tenets of conduct for their employees.

Mazzeo’s approach to the industry is one of the forces that have enabled them to grow their construction business so quickly, beginning only three years ago in 2020. They say the motivation from committing to a high level of excellence, customer satisfaction and being prepared created a strong foundation, for the customers, the employees, and the company as a whole. “My proudest accomplishment is my team,” they say. “I am where I am today because we respect each other and they show up every day to make dreams come true.” Mazzeo cites their gratitude for achieving the success the company has realized and plans to help those who are less fortunate. “I would like to help people in need of critical projects like roofing by providing the labor at no cost. The idea has been well-received and supported by partners like Mid-Cape Home Centers to work with me on the materials.” It is that kind of focus that has given Mazzeo the motivation to approach each day with the following personal confirmation, “I am strong, I am worth it, I got this.”


Theresa Sprague • Founder, Designer • Blue Flax Design, LLC

Theresa Sprague

Theresa Sprague says she was well underway in her career of ecological and landscape design before she noticed it might be a male-dominated industry. “It honestly didn’t dawn on me until I attended my first large trade show after finishing grad school, and I realized I was one of very few women on the trade show floor,” she recalls. “It was definitely a little awkward at first, but I simply knew I had to do good work, know my stuff, stand my ground and earn the respect of my colleagues.”

Sprague says the passion for sustainability and other important concepts, from both men and women in her field, has helped to diffuse barriers that might exist elsewhere in the building industry. “I have met so many women (and men!) who were passionate about their work, and who were making great changes in the way we think about and manage our land and our relationship to our landscapes. I couldn’t help but learn from and respect all of them!”

Sprague asserts that starting her own business, and prevailing within the Cape’s larger building industry has earned her the respect she experiences. “I feel that people reach out to me and our company because of our expertise, our passion for what we do, and our ability to understand our clients’ goals as well as state and local regulations; as well as creatively design projects that satisfy the goals of all these stakeholders,” she says of her company, which is 100% woman-owned.

For over ten years Sprague has been protecting the fragile Cape environment while helping her clients understand their role in it and impact to the ecosystem in which we live. During that time, she says obstacles stemming from gender assumptions were encountered, but never insurmountable. “I do recall the first times I faced obstacles as a woman in this industry, and I recall feeling frustrated at the time. I overcame it by not letting it define me, by working hard to learn and master what I needed and wanted to know in my field, and by building a reputation as someone who works well with everyone, but most importantly, knows her business.”

Jen Crawford

Jen Crawford • Founder/Landscape Architect • Crawford Land Management

Jen Crawford says her focus and passion for the natural world has distracted her from giving any consideration to her career choice as being in a male-dominated sector. “I never thought about it; I followed my interests and passions and they led me here,” Crawford explains. “Nor has it ever deterred my voice, my passion, or my ability to do what I love.”

As Crawford’s unwavering focus has provided the road map for her profession, she says the mentors who have helped and influenced her along the way, were patient, powerful and subtle; all at once. “I had mentors that I didn’t know they were mentors—people that were patient with me while I asked questions, vented my frustrations, and picked their brain for knowledge and experience that I could apply to my own situations,” she recalls.

Crawford says her keen observations allowed her to also understand the things she didn’t want to incorporate into the way she did business. She also paid attention to the subtleties inherent to the ways men and women differ in their approach to situations. “Like any man would, I use what I have at my disposal. Men have tools in their toolbox. So do women,” Crawford reflects. “Men can be ruthless in business. Women don’t need to be ruthless; we just need to be ourselves. There have been moments when I am aware of my gender, as well as my age. I put my abilities where my mouth is. I am good at my job and I know what I am doing. Anyone who discounts that or can’t recognize that, isn’t someone I am interested in sharing time or efforts with. Move aside.”

This is not to say Crawford doesn’t recognize her limitations. “I’m very good about knowing the limits of my knowledge and experience,” she asserts. “If I have a question, or need to understand a process, I’m upfront and comfortable asking until I get the answers I require.”

Natasha Batchelor • Sales Arborist • Hartney Greymont, A Davey Company

Natasha Batchelor

Natasha Batchelor’s 25 years working for Davey Tree, a Falmouth tree company, now Hartney Greymont, A Davey Company, has resulted in making her a familiar presence at local building events as well as in neighbor’s yards. After pursuing an engineering degree at the University of Massachusetts, Batchelor quickly realized doing calculations at a desk job was not a career that would ultimately make her happy. Having embraced a love for the woods, she briefly embraced a forestry degree. Again, a reconsideration of a life among the outdoors and little social interaction ultimately led her to arboriculture and as they say, the third time was the charm.

“It never occurred to me that I was consistently choosing male dominated industries except people kept telling me it was unusual for a woman to pursue these careers,” she explains. Batchelor has moved through the ranks at Hartney Greymont, becoming the first woman in the company to hold a manager’s position, thanks to one of her mentors who never mentioned her gender during his entire proposal to management. At the end of the presentation, the president of the company asked, “Natasha, that’s a woman, right?” Batchelor says, “It speaks volumes that the question had to be asked in that it was not a factor, just a clarification. It was made the non-issue it should always be.”

In 2020, Batchelor decided to go back to her roots, “I made the decision to give up management to focus on what I love most, dealing with clients and their properties as a sales arborist,” she explains. Batchelor says she has seen the evolution of acceptance when dealing with customers’ reactions to a woman in her position. “We always communicate to a client that a woman is coming to assess their tree care,” she explains. “And that is usually followed by a confirmation of, ‘Yes. She is an International Society of Arboriculture and Massachusetts Certified Arborist.’ When I meet with the homeowners, their trepidation dissipates pretty quickly. Today, there is a mention that I am a woman, but then excitement that they get to have a woman arborist work with them.”

Julie Esteves • Founder, Designer • Julia Garden Design

Julie Esteves

Julie Esteves recognizes that despite passion and focus, and maybe even an option for substitution, a career in a male-dominated industry requires a certain kind of blind dedication. “To be in the ‘green’ industry, one definitely has to have a sense of vocations,” Esteves asserts. Esteves who grew up in Osterville, discovered her love of gardening under the tutelage of another Osterville native, Phyllis Cole, who had transformed some of the finest homes in the bespoke village with her landscape company. “She was a tremendous traditional gardener as well as a talented landscape designer and I learned a lot from her,” Esteves shares.

Esteves believes the delineation of male versus female accepted roles begins with very basic ideas. “The perception of the divide between landscaping and gardening results in the separation between men and women working in the industry,” she observes. “Historically there haven’t been training programs in companies specifically to support and train women in the use of garden building equipment—like skid steers—so that they can use equipment confidently alongside men.” Somewhere in that intersection of her love of gardening and the responsibilities associated with heading up a landscape design and installation company, Esteves has found an equilibrium that allows her and her team to create beautiful and functional outdoor spaces for their clients while also providing a platform for growth for all the employees. Creating the space for individuals in the company to define their own mark is also something Esteves knows about as she owns the company with her husband, Artek Milczanowski. “While I have worked alongside my husband to develop our business, we have developed our expertise in different areas to complement each other’s work,” she affirms. “And as our business has grown, our staff have been partners in mentoring and peer development.”

Throughout, the themes emerging from these conversations are repeated, implying there are shared experiences that produce universal truths. Overall, the evolution of acceptance, contribution and value of women in this industry seems to be propelled by a positive momentum. Here’s to the day when the conversation seems unnecessary. 

Julie Craven Wagner is the editor of Cape Cod LIFE.

Cape Cod Life Publications