Construction industry beckons women to join

March 6 kicks off Women In Construction Week, and many women in the industry say it’s a lucrative career to have.

ST PAUL, Minn. — Remember President Biden’s infrastructure bill?

Well turns out, that’s going to be boosting the need for construction workers this year, apparently as many as 650,000 workers are going to be needed to keep up with demand.

And the industry that is so overrepresented by men is looking at women to join.

If the construction industry is a gauge for the economy, the temperature is hot right now.

Katie LaPlant at the University of Minnesota is feeling the excitement.

“The good news is that Minnesota is working on a surplus right now and that’s really good for the University of Minnesota because we tend to get a little more funding from the state,” LaPlant said.

As the University’s Carpenter Foreperson, Katie’s now on her third year in construction leadership.

She’s one of literally a handful of women carpenter forepersons in the state.

“My parents weren’t carpenters, my friends weren’t carpenters, and to add on top of that I was a woman in a trade that doesn’t really have a lot of women,” LaPlant said, describing a challenging start to her career.

When asked why she thought the industry was so dominated by men, she said, “I think there’s a lot of fear some people have, working with equipment they’re not used to, and sometimes this job can be dangerous.”

She added that navigating a field as a minority can be difficult at times too.

“It’s a battle of sexual harassment too,” she said. “It’s happened to me personally many times, it’s happened to most of my friends who have worked in the trades. It’s amazing to me how many times I’ve been told the only reason I’m here is because I’m looking for my husband.”

However, LaPlant says the industry is one ripe with countless opportunities.

Missy Scherber, the president and owner of T. Scherber Demolition and Excavating, can vouch for that.

“They’re saying that two million jobs are going to open up in 2022,” Scherber said. “That’s very telling of buildings are still going up, homes are still being built, industry is still in a boom.”

Missy too did not start out in construction, and certainly did not start as president and owner of a company. However, she says being a woman in the industry helped her streamline her way to the top.

“Field positions and what women can make is so lucrative in this position right now,” Scherber said. “We are top of scale and [an] interesting statistic–I’m pretty sure we have the smallest pay gap across men and women across the industry. It’s lucrative pay, benefits, women truck drivers who are making 70 plus thousand a year.”

“I’m excited to be a woman in construction because, despite being a minority, we’re pioneers,” Scherber continued. “And pioneers by definition, they explore and they settle. The women in our industry right now, we get to come in, explore these roles and settle and make room for other women to come and work alongside us.”

The National Association of Women in Construction Minneapolis – St. Paul Chapter is hosting a week of Women In Construction events. You can find more details here

WIC Week is March 6-12, 2022.

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