The National Association of Women In Construction (NAWIC) Detroit Chapter 183 is developing programs to interest grade school girls in careers in the construction business. One program, which is being planned for the late summer of 2008, will expose girls to a variety of careers in construction.
"With this particular program, we're attempting to focus our attention on high school students, probably at the sophomore, junior and senior level. We will be working with the trade unions and with our own internal project management professionals to put together a four- or five-day program for these students," Kathi Dobson, 2007–2008 president of NAWIC Detroit Chapter 183, said. Dobson is also safety director for the Automotive Group at Alberici Constructors, Inc., of Livonia. Dobson said that even though the goal is to make it a four- or five-day program, it may start as a one- or two-day program.
"It would introduce them to the concepts of construction and give them some hands-on experience as well. Our goal is to target one day for electrical, one day for mechanical, one day for carpentry, and so on, and give the girls an opportunity to actually work on a small one-day project. It could be framing some walls, putting together light switches, or maybe doing some block and brick work." Dobson said that a NAWIC chapter in Georgia has done this type of program.
"We made preliminary contact with them, as well as with the local trade unions in Michigan to see if they would be interested in participating with us. They seem to be very positive. They are looking for apprentices for their programs and by getting a girl interested in a construction career as a trades person at the age of 16 or 17, she's more likely to be able to move right into an apprenticeship program rather easily," Dobson said.
"We are not targeting young girls for a specific trade; we're looking at promoting the positive aspects of construction management, project engineering and so on."
A location for the program has not yet been selected. "What we really need is a school where we can have some classroom participation and have some field experience as well," Dobson said.
Another upcoming NAWIC Detroit Chapter program for girls is called "Skirts and Dirt." "We're going to work with Klochko Equipment Rental Company, Inc. for one of our programs next spring, so that young girls can see what it's like to sit on a dozer or operate the controls on some equipment with some guidance of course," Dobson said. The age range of girls that will participate in the "Skirts and Dirt" program will probably be 10 to 16, Dobson said.
"By providing the 'Skirts and Dirt' program to young women, hopefully, we can get some participation for our other girls program." The "Skirts and Dirt" program is tentatively scheduled for March 19, 2008.
Persons or organizations interested in participating in either program can contact Kathi Dobson at (810) 523-5362 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.