How Women-Led Initiatives Empower Girls to See Their Future

With women only representing about 10% of the construction workforce, there are many organizations and initiatives actively working to increase the number of women in the industry, while at the same time, breaking down existing barriers to entry.  By bringing young girls face-to-face with construction and offering insight from seasoned craft professionals, women-led initiatives and events are able to provide these girls with mentorship and a realistic view of the industry. This combination of mentorship and representation coupled with a hands-on introduction to the industry is powerful. Lead drone pilot for Dunn University, Ambry Martin was introduced to the construction industry through a local girls-only construction camp.  With an affinity for drawing and sketching buildings, Martin always thought about becoming a designer or architect one day. When she heard about a weeklong construction camp during her freshman year of high school, Martin decided to attend. Each day of the camp focused on a different craft specialty, ranging from welding to drafting, and she fell in love with every side of construction. AmbryMartinDronePilot - 350x350   Returning for the next two years, Martin realized that she loved working with her hands and being out in the field. While she still enjoyed drawing and planning, she found a passion in working hands-on with a team to achieve a finished product. With this information, she decided to test out different crafts by shadowing seasoned craft professionals while she was still in high school.  Considering attending a four-year college for engineering, Martin was still weighing out her options when she attended Power UP, a mother daughter construction event that brings women in construction and young girls together to talk about the opportunities in the industry. It was through an open conversation with women in the industry that Martin decided to go into construction after high school.  “I knew as soon as I went to that event,” Martin said. “I wanted to be able to drive down the road and say, ‘Hey, I helped build that.’ It was an eye opener, and I was able to see my future in front of me. I knew it as soon as I walked in that room filled with amazing women.” For Martin, the most impactful part of the event was being able to speak to the women in the industry and hear about their experiences in the field.  Hired at Dunn University directly out of high school, Martin was trained to become a drone pilot and is now the lead pilot for the company. Still enthralled by the industry, she is still exploring different crafts and making her own way. Currently working with Dunn, in school for engineering technology and taking Heavy Equipment Operating classes, Martin hopes to be a project manager one day. “Everything has started piecing itself together; I’m actually able to see what I’m learning in college as I work, and I wouldn’t change that for anything.” Because Martin’s career path was influenced so heavily by women in construction, she hopes to one day inspire young girls to join to industry. Working with Power UP this year on the other side of the event, she wants to help girls discover career paths within the industry.  Her advice? Find women in construction in your area. By finding an opportunity to get your hands on the industry through a camp, training session or job shadowing, you can start finding your path.  “There are women in the workforce who are looking forward to having more women around and are willing to mentor girls and help them find their future in construction.” 

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Kelsey Zibell

Kelsey Zibell is the Build Your Future Coordinator at NCCER in Alachua, Florida. She is a graduate from the University of Florida with a bachelor of...

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