Kristina Ippolito, a project engineer at Judlau Contracting in New York City. Photo by Deanne Fitzmaurice

Kristina Ippolito

Kristina works on the South Ferry Terminal Complex Rehabilitation Project. The South Ferry subway station was damaged during Superstorm Sandy. She is the only woman engineer on the job.

“It’s a challenge to be the only woman on a male-dominated field job-site. It takes a lot longer for men to take you seriously. You have to prove that you know something. People will ask things like, ‘whose daughter are you?’ or ‘are you an intern?,’ constantly. This makes you feel almost unqualified. That’s the main frustration. It’s about getting the job done, though. It takes a while for men to get over that hurdle, but once they do it works out. I’ve never faced sexual harassment at work. I think it’s more so the people on the outside looking in that have the opinion that women shouldn’t be working in construction.”

Kristina has an important job ensuring that another storm will not result in the damage that happened during Sandy. “Flood control is extensive given how horrendously flooded and damaged the station was. We now have 23 station flood doors and four individual large scale barriers that can be deployed on the tracks and act as walls to damn down water that rushes into the tunnel. We want to make sure that everything is watertight.”

Kristina has a bachelor of science in civil engineering and manages the station’s architectural finishes, flood protection, station elevators and escalators.

“My dad is a union electrician, and both my grandfather and uncle were carpenters. We joke that I am the son my father never had. As a kid, I always wanted to build things. I loved playing with legos and never wanted dolls. I’ve always been good at math and science, so engineering seemed right for me.