Building the Next Generation: Construction Programs for Girls (and Boys!)

Building a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive industry involves more than just hiring more women in construction now (though that is a great start!). Construction programs for girls and boys are a great way to excite our youth about careers in construction. Engaging the next generation in construction opportunities promotes positive representation of women in the industry and builds future male allies and advocates.

The NAWIC Education Foundation (NEF) sponsors three programs to introduce K-12 and college students to construction: Block Kids, Create Design Build!, and Design Drafting.

Block Kids
For more than 30 years, the Block Kids Building Program, a national competition for children in Kindergarten through 6th grade, has been encouraging young builders. Participants create something construction related, without adult help, using 75-100 small interlocking building blocks, string, a rock, foil, and poster board. Competitions are sponsored by NAWIC chapters, local organizations, and schools. Finalists at the Chapter level advance to the Regional level. One finalist from each NAWIC Region advances to the National competition where the top three projects are awarded.

Create Design Build!
Create Design Build! Introduces students in grades 8-12 to construction trades, engineering, design, and architecture. Participants develop skills including math, English, leadership, teamwork, budgeting, time management, and research by teaming up for a hands-on project in the classroom. With a budget and design requirements, each team must create a company identity, design a company logo for business cards and stationery, write a project proposal and letters to customers, create design documents for the proposal, and build a mockup for the proposal.

Design Drafting
The Design Drafting competition introduces high school and college students to design drawing and the construction industry. The national contest is judged on creative design, successful problem solving, and craftsmanship in preparing architectural drawings. Events can be sponsored by a NAWIC chapter, school, or individual. Participants are given a design problem created by a licensed Architect or Engineer and must create at minimum a floor plan, exterior elevation, and site plan that includes the placement of the structure. This year, participants also get hands-on real-world experience using industry tools from event partner Procore, maker of project management software.

Other construction programs for girls
Of course, the NAWIC Education Foundation isn’t the only organization to offer construction programs for girls to learn about the industry. NAWIC chapters across the country offer camps and construction programs for girls and young women, such as Camp NAWIC. For example, since 2009, the NAWIC Philadelphia Foundation has presented MyWIC, a free hands-on construction industry day camp for 7th-12th grade girls in the Philadelphia area.

Trade organizations and their chapters have programs, too. The Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) Keystone chapter recently presented All ‘bout Construction (ABC) Camp for girls ages 14-19 to explore careers in construction through mentorship, problem solving, and hands-on experiences.

The Rosie’s Girls camp is a construction program for girls from the Vermont Works for Women organization. It introduces middle school girls from across the state to trades and career exploration. In addition to hands-on construction skills, Rosie’s Girls also helps participants build Power Skills to talk about and deal with societal issues that are relevant to them. Known as soft skills, self-advocacy, communication, and conflict resolution are important for women in nontraditional fields like construction.

Girl Scouts can learn about construction careers and earn a new patch. The House That She Built was developed by the author of the book with the same name, Mollie Elkman, and with support from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) who published the book. Through hands-on activities and by introducing Girl Scouts to real women in construction, the patch program aims to encourage girls to consider careers in construction.

The National Association of Women in Construction builds women leaders in construction, now and for the future. NAWIC provides professional development, education, networking, and leadership training for women in construction of all experience levels. NAWIC has 118 chapters in the United States and international affiliates, too. Membership is open to any female construction worker. Several membership options are available which include flexible pricing and membership terms. Learn more about our work to support women in the industry and to inspire future women leaders in construction. Want to know more? Contact us through social media, or our website.

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