‘Build like a girl’ event invites young females to experience construction hands-on

The construction field isn’t always marketed as a career for women, but a local event aims to help change that stereotype. Female fifth through twelfth-grade students are invited to attend a free, hands-on ‘Build like a girl’ event, exploring careers within the construction industry. The event takes place on Tuesday, Feb. 28 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at The Great Hall (5121 Bay City Road) in Midland. It’s being  Hosted by the Associated Builders & Contractors Greater Michigan Chapter, and sponsored by the Greater Michigan Construction Academy and Ladies Operation for Growth in Construction,

The ABC Greater Michigan Chapter spans 23 counties. Cathy Geiger, marketing and community affairs director for the chapter, says the organization aims to provide craft and professional education, up-to-date industry communication, legislative representation and more. “Its mission is to promote free enterprise and the merit shop philosophy within the construction industry,” she says. 

Build Like A Girl takes place at The Great Hall in Midland.
This is the second year of the event, and the first year with the new ‘build like a girl’ name. The event showcases the lucrative STEM careers in the construction industry to young people in middle school through high school. “This unique workforce development program is aimed to help empower young women to step into roles that will solve the construction industry’s labor shortage,” Geiger says. 

Geiger says attendees will walk away from the event with education, guidelines, and hands-on experiences. “Participants will hear from local employers, influential women in construction, and training providers to gauge if a career in construction would be a great fit. Contractors and suppliers will offer hands-on activities, they will learn about the education needed, how to gain confidence in this male dominated industry and will gain insight from women who are in the industry through a panel discussion.”

Hands-on activities include hand tool demonstrations, electrical wiring, robot, fork and truck simulators, small plex piping assembling, scaffold building, and more. So far, 23 organizations have signed up to host a booth including Milwaukee Tool, Answer Heating & Cooling, Greater Michigan Construction Academy, Town & Country Group, MDL Companies, Nile Plant Services, Dow, J.E. Johnson, Alloy Construction Service, Inc., Koala Insulation, Bierlein, SwiftWall, Valley Electrical Contractors, MAG Insulation, Fisher Companies, and Three Rivers Corporation. 

Seeing and hearing from these female role models within the local economy and larger construction industry can help pave the way for young adults’ futures. Geiger says events that welcome and educate girls on jobs that are often seen as careers solely for men, are important.

“Girls are at a higher disadvantage of getting into the construction industry because it may appear to be a job for ‘boys’ or it’s a ‘dirty job,’” she says. “This event will feature women in construction who will share their successes in the construction industry, act as role models and encourage young girls to enter a career in the construction industry. As we create an environment where women can succeed and grow in the industry, we will organically attract more females to the industry, creating a more gender balanced construction industry.”
As one of the founders of the event, Geiger has seen firsthand the impact the event has had not on young women in the region. “Last year, it was wonderful to see how engaged the girls were at the booths,” she says. “Although it was a smaller event, we felt it was successful because of the level of engagement of attendees. One of the girls spent so much time at each of the booths she ran out of time to visit them all, so she asked if she could go back even though all of the booths were closing down. That made all of us so happy!”

Interested participants must bring a parent/guardian. Registration for the free event is available online. 

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Sarah Spohn is a Lansing native, but every day finds a new interesting person, place, or thing in towns all over Michigan, leaving her truly smitten with the mitten. She received her degrees in journalism and professional communications and provides coverage for various publications locally, regionally, and nationally — writing stories on small businesses, arts and culture, dining, community, and anything Michigan-made. You can find her in a record shop, a local concert, or eating one too many desserts at a bakery. If by chance, she’s not at any of those places, you can contact her at sarahspohn.news@gmail.com.