A nationwide campaign to modernize the culture and alter the stereotype of the male-dominated construction industry kicked off this week. The Women in Construction Week was organized by the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) to showcase the talented and successful women in the field, according to the Minnesota Star Tribune.
Founded in 1953 by the mere 16 women in construction at that time, the NAWIC focuses on outreach, networking efforts and counseling for women interested in entering the field, according to its website.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2015 just 9.3 percent of people working in the construction industry were female. However, that number was up slightly from 8.9 percent the year previous.
Highlighting opportunity and growth in the field is especially important for recruiting young women. Debbie Beacher, owner of highway construction firm RFB Construction Inc. and president of the Southeast Kansas chapter of the NAWIC, spoke at Pittsburg State University this week, according to the Morning Sun.
At the NAWIC monthly meeting, women were invited to test out simulator tools as part of the effort to educate and encourage interest. And it just may be working.
The School of Construction at the university has seen significant growth in interest as construction companies are reaching out to recruit more and more females. About 44 percent of the 360 students enrolled in the fall 2015 were female, instructor of construction at the university Jenny McCool told the Morning Sun. McCool is also treasurer of the local NAWIC chapter.
“It’s very important that we continue to encourage women to consider a career in the construction industry,” McCool said. “Construction isn’t just about hammers and nails. It’s a big industry with many different facets, and women are increasingly playing an important role in many of those areas.”