NMU hosts Women in Construction Day

Alexa Gravedoni leads one of the woodwork stations at this year’s Women In Construction event. The event first began in 2017, giving high school students a chance to explore careers in the construction industry. Above and at left, students work at different welding (Journal photo by Dreyma Beronja)

MARQUETTE — High school students around the area had a unique opportunity on Friday at Nothern Michigan University.

NMU’s construction management program held the one-day event presented by female professionals in the construction industry.

The hands-on career exploration event offered students a chance to discover and experience options that are traditionally viewed as male-oriented. The event was free of charge and limited to 75 participants, open to all genders.

According to NMU’s event page, students will complete projects in a safe and well-supervised environment in areas such as graphic technology, woodworking, trade opportunities, leadership and construction management.

“It’s very important for young females to understand that this is absolutely a viable and successful career option and there will be support wherever they go,” said Heidi Blanck, associate professor in the construction management program and co-coordinator for Women in Construction, said. “Clearly a lot of our volunteers here are men and they’re here to help encourage young women to get involved.”

Students work at different welding stations.(Journal photo by Dreyma Beronja)

Blanck said that with the event she hopes that students feel empowered to try something new.

“Career exploration events are really about just giving a low commitment one day, seeing what you like, maybe pursuing it further or realizing ‘Nope this isn’t for me’ and that’s OK, too,” Blanck said.

Raija Stille, a senior in the construction management program, first came to the event as a junior in high school at Westwood High School.

Stille said she came for career exploration as she was unsure what she wanted to pursue in higher education.

Stille enjoyed working with a team and seeing tangible results which led to her joining the program and knowing she could succeed in the field.

Students work at different welding stations. (Journal photo by Dreyma Beronja)

“I learned a lot, it was very informative and it taught me that women can be in construction,” Stille said. “After that I took more trades classes when I was in high school and after that I decided I want to go into construction.”

Stille will graduate from the program in May, when she will then work full-time in the construction industry. She encourages all girls to not be afraid to step out of their comfort zones.

“I was once in that same boat,” Stille said. “I was afraid to step out of my comfort zone and when I did and I came to the event and learned that I could do this, it was a very fufilling thing.”

Koryn Holman, a senior at Mona Shores High School in Muskegon, decided to come to the event as she would be coming to NMU next year to pursue education in the construction management program.

“There’s not a lot of girls from where I am that are going into construction,” Holman said. “So when (NMU) invited me, it was an opportunity that I decided to take.”

Holman said that her favorite parts of the event were meeting the faculty helping out during the event, the woodworking projects and the welding.

According to a recent Bureau of Labor Statistics report, the construction industry has one of the smallest gender wage gaps between women and men at 91.3%.

However, women account for only 9.9% of its workforce.

The event was held at the Jacobetti Complex Friday.

For more information on Women in Construction or NMU’s Technology and Occupational Science department, visit online at nmu.edu/tos/about-us.

Dreyma Beronja can be reached at 906-228-2500 ext. 248. Their email address is dberonj@miningjournal.net.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper *

Starting at $4.62/week.

Subscribe Today