MARQUETTE, Mich. (WJMN) – Northern Michigan University’s construction management program held its annual Women in Construction (WIC) event for high school students on Friday. NMU’s WIC event began in 2017.
Over 100 students from Marquette County had the chance to get some hands on-experience with woodworking, welding, virtual construction, and urban planning. They learned from NMU students, alumnae, and women working in these industries.
“I think it’s important for them to be here because it gives them an understanding of what we do in this industry and it’s a little bit more than just working in the field,” said Caity Smithson, an NMU construction management alumna. “There’s different aspects such as the virtual that we’re working on today. Along with the design side of it that I partake with myself. There’s just a lot of sides to it that is really great to see for these students.”
According to a recent Bureau of Labor Statistics report, the construction industry has one of the smallest gender wage gaps between women and men, yet women account for only 9.9 percent of its workforce.
“We hope that they learn opportunities that they might not have heard about previously,” said Kate Havel, operations specialist and events coordinator of NMU’s construction management program. “Some of these students have been in welding and wood shop throught high school, and some of that haven’t had the opportunity. So it’s just a little glimpse into what the possibilities are for the future.”
This is the third year Laci Moffatt, a senior at Westwood High School, has participated in the WIC event. She said she took welding and wood shop at school because of it.
“I think it made me more confident as a person because I am going into environmental science so I think that really opened up for me,” said Moffatt.
Raija Stille is a construction management student at NMU. She attended the Women in Construction event when she was in high school and is now helping to teach students these skills.
“When I was in high school, I really had no idea what I want to do, so I came to the WIC [Women in Construction] event really looking for a career exploration,” said Stille. “This event really opened my eyes to all the different avenues that are in construction and that women can really be in construction. So without the WIC day I would not be in the position I am today.”
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