Last month we discussed the importance of inspiring the next generation of women in construction. There are steps we can all take to ensure we are encouraging girls to pursue a career of their choice, including those in non-traditional industries, starting with awareness of our own implicit biases. We should also recognize that STEM is not just about coding, there are many non-traditional career paths where an affinity for math and science are encouraged.
Constructing Opportunity, LLC in conjunction with the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) Chicago Metro #325 chapter dedicated a week in June to inspire the next generation of women in construction by facilitating the inaugural Chicago Metro Camp NAWIC. Fourteen high-school age girls took part in the week-long day camp. The purpose of the camp was to introduce construction as a career option, specifically to illustrate the variety of jobs in the construction industry. It is a reminder for everyone that construction is not only swinging a hammer on a job site (though that is a viable option if you are interested).
Camp NAWIC participants met architects, engineers, utility company employees, a variety of skilled trades people, materials suppliers, quality control specialists, project managers, general contractors, college interns, sales people, customer service representatives, human resource employees, and others in the industry. These high school girls learned from professionals in their places of work, heard about apprentice programs, visited training centers, and toured projects under construction; illustrating the “village” it takes to bring a project to fruition. Aside from the cool swag the girls received from the sponsoring companies, they also built their own tool boxes to take home. They received an actual on-the-job safety briefing including being issued the requisite PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) hard hats, high-visibility vests, and safety goggles. Whether these girls pursue a career in the construction industry or not, their view of the industry and its possibilities will be forever changed because of their immersive experience.
Camp NAWIC is held in various cities across the US, where other NAWIC members are working to inspire young women.
Though it was just a small sample of the next generation, if we can influence one girl to pursue a career in construction and expand their understanding of STEM, it is worth it. One of the campers was so excited about her experience, she asked when she could sign up for next summer! This question showed us we are on the right path. We encourage everyone to share their passion for the industry with next generation. Together we can make a difference, potentially help combat the impending labor shortfall, and increase the number of women choosing a career in construction. Next month we will highlight young women who have made that choice and are embarking on careers in construction. Please follow us on LinkedIn or join our mailing list at www.constructingopportunity.com to receive our updates.