WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU PUT TOOLS IN THE HANDS OF GIRLS?
In 2021, at a time when women account for a fraction of the workforce in fields like construction, plumbing, and automotive repair, Wild Rivers Habitat for Humanity created a new program, Girls Build Summer Day Camps, to help get more women into the skilled trades. The camps are organized so that participants tackle hands-on projects with the help of female mentors. In addition, to ensure to cater the camps to younger girls ages 8 -15, so they will have plenty of time to get acquainted and perhaps even fall in love with this type of work long before they’ve made any major career choices. Camps are also about empowering girls to interact with the physical world and learn that they could decipher the mechanics of a broken tool and tackle fixing it on their own.
Having these summer camps is something that our executive director Jennifer Johnson was passionate to roll out. Jennifer, who spent seven years in leadership roles at two different Home Builders Associations, has seen first hand the gap that exists between men and women in the construction industry. Women account for less than 10 percent of all U.S. construction workers and 12 percent of repair and maintenance workers. They are largely left out of these jobs that often pay more than the average starting salary for someone with a four-year degree. These camps, for her, were about empowering girls to enter the skilled trades.