The best advice for young people planning to enter any career field usually comes from professionals already employed in that business or industry. For women interested in the typically male-dominated construction industry, the benefit of an experienced female mentor’s advice is even more important.
The National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) visited Questar III this month to provide just that – first-hand advice to the young ladies enrolled in the Construction Technologies, Heavy Equipment Operation and Maintenance, HVAC and Automotive Technologies programs at Rensselaer Educational Center (REC) in Troy. NAWIC is an organization focused on uniting women in the construction field, promote education and help better the industry and encourage women to pursue a career in construction.
Several members of Capital District Chapter 261 sponsored and attended a lunch with the students to discuss how to break the barriers of “traditional” careers, apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship opportunities, the important of mentors, scholarship opportunities, and the empowerment of taking programs like those at Questar III. They also shared advice with the group reminding them not to be afraid to make a mistake or ask questions, no one can take away from you what you can do with your hands, and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t.
NAWIC Chapter President Vicki Spring says the work to encourage more women to work in the field is ongoing.
“A study from 2018 showed that women represent 9% of employees in the total construction industry, and only 1.25% are actually working out in the field. The gender barrier in construction is difficult – we, as women, are not there yet, however there are ample opportunities for women in construction that have not been promoted. School events like this one with Questar III students are the first step.”
REC Construction Technologies teacher Mike McGillycuddy says it’s important for students to learn more than just the hands-on skills in his class.
“We can teach all of the important technical and safety skills needed for employment in the construction industry, but it is a huge added benefit for our female students to network with and get helpful advice from other women who are already successful professionals in their respective businesses.”