The National Association of Women in Construction is holding a week-long camp in Austin, Texas, for middle-school-age girls to teach them valuable skills and encourage them to consider careers in the construction industry, according to www.kxan.com.
The group will build and wire their own lamps, pour concrete and build a free library stand during the week as NAWIC works to recruit more girls into the industry early.
“There’s just not a lot of talk about what opportunities are out there, and that’s kind of our goal is to show the kids what else there could be,” says Jordan Moore, a specialist at plumbing supplier Ferguson Enterprises and board member at NAWIC’s Austin chapter.
This is the first camp of its kind the organization has held in Texas, and it comes at a time when contractors are experiencing labor shortages.
A recent Associated General Contractors of America report showed construction firms expanded their workforces throughout much of the U.S. between April 2018 and April 2019, with Dallas-area companies creating the second-most jobs in the nation at 9,200. Still, many firms reported they would have hired even more employees if only they could find enough qualified workers.
Meanwhile, women represent just 10% of the construction industry workforce, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
NAWIC hopes to convince the next generation of girls that working in the construction industry is a good way to build a career.
Anahi Avila, an eighth-grader at the camp, says her family is involved in the construction industry, and she wants to follow the same path. She wants to prove she deserves the same chances as anyone else.
"We can do the same thing as a guy can do,” she says.
Eighth-grade camper Ramona Gonzalez wants to be a landscape designer or sustainable builder and won’t let stereotypes stop her.
“I don’t accept no as an answer,” she says. “Tell them, ‘Yeah, I'm going to do this. I can do this.’ You don’t have to let them take you down.”