This week, March 4 through 10, the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) is celebrating their annual Women in Construction (WIC) Week. 120 chapters and over 4,000 members of the organization are striving to bring awareness to the role of women in the construction industry over the next few days by hosting events, wearing pins and stickers, and engaging with their communities.
The construction industry is facing a massive labor shortage. The labor and skill needed to relieve that shortage, however, are readily available. Despite making up a fraction of the current construction workforce, women are poised to move toward the forefront of the industry with a slow, but steady influx of female engineers, architects, project leaders, tradeswomen, contractors, and more.
That’s where NAWIC and events like WIC Week come in. Stereotypes abound, young women — and perhaps even the general populous — don’t associate the construction industry and women in the way that they should. WIC Week gives NAWIC members the chance to promote opportunities in construction for women within their communities, thus also generating a conversation around diversity in the trades.
“We really want to create the dialogue that women are out there, and we want to support other women,” Heather Groves, the National WIC Week Chair for NAWIC, said. “It’s getting the word out there that women are growing in this industry, and that we’re supporting one another in it.”
Catherine Schoenenberger,’s National President, is facilitating a symposium for 150 female high school students this week to not only showcase the opportunities available to them in the industry, but to provide mentorship to them as they step into those roles in the coming years. This isn’t just for WIC Week, either, Schoenenberger also creates Construction Career Day events for high school students of both genders throughout the year.
“The boys will immediately go up to the girls and start taking the tools out of their hands to show them how to do it,” Schoenenberger explained. “It’s when the girl says, ‘let me do it and walk away,’ — that’s when she finally gets that power back to her and she realizes she can do it.”
To help facilitate this conversation, BuiltWorlds has Future Workforce Forums on a monthly basis, the next of which is Thursday, March 15, at Redmond Construction in Chicago. The evening’s theme will be “constructing a welcoming environment for women.” Additionally, NAWIC offers a host of resources for women in the construction industry via their regional chapters.
“The women I know, when they speak of their jobs, they absolutely light up,” Schoenenberger says, “It’s hard work and sometimes you do get dirty, but on the flip side, you’re doing something different every day. You’re outside. You have a lot of pluses.”