New women-in-construction group builds membership

A newly formed group in Lansing is building momentum within just four months of breaking ground.
In September, a couple dozen women launched the Greater Lansing Chapter of the Professional Women in Building Council. Since then, numbers have climbed to 45 strong, with more women joining or expressing interest about careers in the building trades.
For PWB member Jessica Cooper, the uptick is astonishing, but not totally unexpected.
"In Michigan, women are do-it-yourselvers," says Cooper who was among the council's inaugural members. "I grew up in the area and was always raised that if you could do something, you'd do it. To me, women in Lansing aren't scared to pick up a drill and are able and want to be in this industry."
Cooper, who works as a remodeler for the Meridian Company, came to the building trades through her 10-year stint at Home Depot. After seeking out additional training and education in the trades, she settled at her current post with the plumbing, heating, air conditioning and remodeling company a few years ago.
The building trades, Cooper reflects, provide decent career paths and wages. Over time, she says she's seen more women working in construction, design, and building and doing tasks like drywall and tile work.
"We'd like to encourage more women to consider the building trades," says Cooper. "There's a fair amount of job availability and it provides you with some pretty empowering skills."
Cooper comments that women can offer different perspective on building outcomes that men sometimes overlook—which adds dimension to a traditionally male-dominated industry.
"We approach things differently than men," says Cooper. "As a remodeler, I know how a woman would use her kitchen or bathroom—what would be functional for her."
The PWB is among local chapter nationwide, and is affiliated with National Association of Home Builders. The local Lansing council receives support from the Home Builders Association of Greater Lansing and provides a means for professional women in the building industry to network, support one another, and give back to the community through grants and scholarships.
Source: Jessica Cooper, Member,  Greater Lansing Chapter of the Professional Women in Building Council
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
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