Women in construction

Garrett Carpenter, a construction management student at Northern Michigan University, teaches Hailey Greenleaf, a student at Iron Mountain High School, how to screw a frame together. The activity was part of Friday’s Women in Construction Day at the Jacobetti Complex, where female high schoolers from across the Upper Peninsula learned about various trades. (Journal photo by Christie Mastric)

MARQUETTE — You don’t have to be a male to operate a chop saw.

Northern Michigan University’s construction management program hosted Women in Construction Day on Friday at the Jacobetti Complex, where high school females experienced various trades during the event.

Kate Havel, operations specialist and event coordinator for the construction management program, called it a “career exploration day” to give high schoolers opportunities, specifically in construction or the trades, they might not have had elsewhere.

“They get the hands-on experience of building something in the wood shop,” Havel said. “They do a little welding project. They learn about mixed reality in terms of the construction industry and urban planning.”

The wood shop activity allowed the participants to make a charred-cedar framed wall mirror — made by themselves, of course.

It might not change their reflections in the mirrors, but at least they’ll know they’re hand-crafted.

“They were able to use chop saws and nail guns and impact drivers to piece everything together,” Havel said.

Courtney Larson of Marquette Senior High School said she had participated in two previous Women in Construction Days.

Of course, each day is different.

“I got to use some double-sided tape in a mirror,” she said of Friday’s wood shop session.

Larson plans to continue woodworking past Friday.

“I already do some wood shopping, so I think it’ll be fun to just get more into it,” she said. “It’s a little bit of a side career for me.”

Groups rotated between the stations, but were given safety-protocol instructions before they began.

According to NMU, high schoolers came from across the Upper Peninsula to take part in the event, which was made possible through sponsorships from regional and alumni-owned companies with additional support from the university.

NMU also indicated that the construction industry has one of the smallest gender wage gaps between women and men, yet women make up only 9.9% of its workforce, said a recent Bureau of Labor Statistics report.

Many people probably would agree that construction-related fields typically are viewed as male-dominated professions, but Havel thinks women are up to the task.

“We have the physical strength to do this just as much as men,” Havel said. “There’s a need in the industry to diversify and to get more females involved.

“We have the program for them here at Northern and then we have the connections with the alumni that are looking to hire more females. It’s a win-win situation.”


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