Human beings have always constructed things. In the Stone Age, stones were the forerunners of hammers. Eventually, real hammers with handles were invented, to be followed by forging, ironwork, and the Industrial Revolution, which gave birth to construction as we know it.
Construction has traditionally been regarded as a male-dominated industry, evoking images of sweaty men in hard hats. A few hardy women did summon up the fortitude to become construction workers, but they were largely marginalized, discriminated against, and subjected to rampant sexism.
Construction Needs Women Workers
Despite the demand for workers, the traditional culture of the construction industry has held back women. According to the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC), in 2016 only a little over nine percent of construction workers were women.
However, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for construction workers at the management level is expected to increase by eleven percent between the years 2016 and 2026. This need for workers is pushing the construction industry to find ways to employ more women.
Build Like a Girl
Miron Construction, based in Wisconsin, is at the forefront of a sea change in who works in construction. The company realized that there is a shortage of workers skilled in the emerging technologies that are transforming the construction industry and saw no reason why women couldn’t do some of these jobs.
Its Build Like a Girl program aims to motivate young women to put on a hard hat, roll up their sleeves and learn about construction trades through participating in projects at temporary job sites.
Smart Girls Rock!
Miron has also partnered with Miller Electric and the Talent Collaborative of the Fox Cities to host Smart Girls Rock! This annual event introduces high-school girls to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics) related careers arising out of the construction industry’s growing embracement of smart technologies.
Tech Innovation Needs Brains Not Brawn
New innovative technology is attracting the next generation of construction workers including women. Here are a couple of examples from Miron.
- Virtual Process Integration (VPI) combines 3D virtual building, equipment models, laser scanning, and laser-alignment technologies. VPI enables an entire construction team to collaborate on one project in real time. This technology greatly decreases errors by detecting conflicts between equipment and the completion of the final design.
- Construction Innovation Lab (Ci Lab) is an interactive workspace that allows all members of a construction team to collaborate via various platforms using an ultra-large, wall-mounted, iPad-type screen. This system stimulates innovation and enables faster and better decision making.
The Growing Acceptance of Women in Construction
The construction industry is changing rapidly because of evolving technology. By bringing awareness of the industry’s diverse opportunities to girls through community involvement and education, companies like Miron Construction are doing their part to show young women that opportunities in construction are there for them too. Times are changing, and the notion that construction will always be a boys-only club is fading fast.
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