Build Like a Girl: Summer program exposes teenage girls to construction jobs

Event held Aug. 10 at Miron Construction HQ
Build Like a Girl: Summer program exposes teenage girls to construction jobs

Middle and high school-age girls are getting ready to put on hard hats and safety vests to learn more about careers in construction.

The third annual Build Like a Girl event is happening Friday in Middleton. The idea behind it is to give girls a unique, hands-on opportunity to experience what it’s like to work in construction.

It’s no secret that the construction industry is having trouble filling open positions for skilled workers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of construction jobs is projected to grow by 11 percent over the next 10 years, faster than the average for all other occupations.

Construction site managers agree women would significantly help alleviate that shortage if they could be convinced to join the industry.

One incentive for women is pay. While women only make 79 cents for every dollar a man makes nationally, the wage disparity in construction is much less, with women making 92.5 cents on the dollar.

“In construction, you make what you make. It’s really nice,” said Carole Schaeffer, Miron Construction. “There isn’t that gender disparity in terms of income. But there’s less than two percent of women who are actually in the field.”

The starting wage for women in construction is $60,000 a year on average, with no experience.

“Quite frankly, there’s such a broad array of opportunities in the construction field. There’s the operating engineers, you can lay brick, you can do any number of things,” said Schaeffer. “You can also be in virtual construction. I think they’re just not aware of all the different possibilities that are in this industry.”

“There’s always jobs. It’s not something you can outsource. You have to build where you are. So it’s something that’s going to continue to have opportunities and keep advancing. Regardless of your gender, it’s a great opportunity, and I don’t think a lot of women hear about it or consider it.”

Build Like a Girl starts at 8 a.m. Friday, Aug. 10 at the Miron Construction Company’s headquarters in Middleton. Girls will get to try their hand at quite a few trades: experiencing what it’s like to work as a carpenter, a mason, and on an active construction site.