Girl Power! Event Encourages Young Girls to Consider the Construction Trades as a Future Career
The YWCA of Minneapolis and Dunwoody College of Technology teamed up to put on Girl Power!, an event for middle school girls throughout the Twin Cities designed to help them become aware of careers in the construction trades.
Girl Power! was conducted by the Minneapolis Plumbers JATC, Local 15 at its training facility on the Dunwoody campus.
Girl Power! is one of many educational events coordinated by Learn2Build, a state-wide program for students in grades 4-9 that combines games in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) with the intent of providing hands-on experiences that build understanding about careers in the construction trades. Learn2Build is one of several programs offered through the Construction Career Pathways, a statewide effort to attract Minnesota’s young people into the construction trades.
One of the goals of Girl Power! is to help female middle school students understand that they have many career options. Many middle school students start receiving messages from their parents, teachers and other adults in their lives that earning a degree from a four-year college is the only path to success. Girl Power! helps middle school girls see that they have options, such as entering an apprenticeship program through a trade union after high school.
The impact of the day-long event is felt when skilled tradeswomen show young women what a life as an electrician, carpenter, plumber, and other construction career options, looks like through fun, hands-on demonstrations. More than 20 tradeswomen — carpenters, operating engineers, pipefitters, painters, and Dunwoody electrical program students — volunteered their time to share their career experiences with 22 girls who participated in the Girl Power! event.
For example, girls were offered the opportunity to a soldering project led by an instructor from the Plumbers JATC and assisted by the other trades women.
“The power of this event is when girls see a person – an adult female who looks like them – doing work that they’re passionate about,” says Mary DesJarlais, the director of Learn2Build. “This event also shows girls how exciting these jobs can be, and that there’s so many great benefits, such as health benefits and retirement benefits that are not guaranteed with other careers.”
DesJarlais is passionate about educating young girls about construction careers because she understands that not every person learns in the same way or gets exposed to these career options. For many people, hands-on work is what they excel at, however our country’s education system often pushes the opposite – white-collar tech jobs in an office setting.
Mary’s passion to educate girls about construction careers comes from the feeling that she missed her chance into getting into a trade when she was younger. As a teenager, she remembers enjoying working on her car, but was never told that she could make a career out of it.
“I knew I liked working with my hands, but no one told me about careers in construction,” says DesJarlais.
DesJarlais is now dedicated to helping young girls get exposed to a career in the trades so she can prevent girls from being dissuaded from going into the trades like she was. By introducing girls to construction careers through Girl Power!, DesJarlais wants to plant a seed that let’s middle school girls know that it’s okay to take a construction trades class in high school, and later, apply for an apprenticeship with a trades union after they graduate.
“These girls need to know that they are welcome with open arms to careers in construction,” says DesJarlais “If you’re determined, you can do anything you want to do.”
To learn more about Learn2Build, visit https://constructioncareers.org/programs/.