Colorado Public Works Journal, Fall/Winter 2019

14 • Colorado Public Works Journal TRANSPORTATION AND CONSTRUCTION GIRL 2019 Encouraging Future Industry Leaders It was once again my honor to participate in the Transportation and Construction Girl Summit. It was once again my honor to participate in the Transportation and Construction Girl Summit. This my third year attending this amazing program as part of the Colorado Public Works Journal team. This year, the Colorado Public Work Journal was the official media sponsor for the program, and with a vibrant team of women writing and working for the Journal, there in my mind, is no better media sponsor for this program. Last year, I was privileged to meet and speak with a dynamic group of young women who were embarking on paths that would lead them to careers in the construction and transportation industries. These young ladies in reality, are trailblazers in an industry that has long been missing the benefits that women bring to the workplace. This year’s program once again highlighted amazing young women who are ready to join other trailblazers in construction, engineering and transportation. This year, Colorado Public Works Journal gave participants to speak for themselves about why this program is important to them. Each girl participating in this year’s Transportation and Construction Girl program, was given the opportunity to write an article about their experience during career days, a week long summer experience that exposes young women to careers in construction, engineering and transportation. Molly Schmitt, was honored at the Transportation and Construction Girl Summit, by Colorado Public Works Journal, Editor Jo Taylor, for her inspiring and thoughtful piece on her experience. Her article was featured in the Summer 2019 edition of CPWJ, and we couldn’t be more excited to share this opportunity with her, and all of the Transportation and Construction Girl participants. My mission this year, was to understand why the vendors and sponsors of this great program, are so enthusiastic to participate. I had some eye opening conversations, and I left the day with a greater understanding of the challenges that we are facing with keeping the trades, especially those that don’t require college degrees, fully staffed, with talented and motivated people. Encouraging young women to consider these careers is essential to maintaining a vibrant and sustainable construction and transportation industry in Colorado and nationwide. Women in Construction – By the Numbers While conversing with sponsor and vendor representatives, I learned some interesting statistics regarding women in the transportation, public works and construction fields. These statistics really bring a bright light to why it is so important to start encouraging more young women into non-traditional careers. • The average age of mechanics in the aviation field is 51 years old. • Only 9% of students in aviation related programs are women. • Only 12% of civil engineering and construction management students, nationwide, are women. • Wagner Equipment, a company of 1,500 employees only has one female diesel mechanic. • In the transportation, construction and public works fields, 30% of vacant jobs are going unfilled. • RTD is short 30% of the workers needed for light rail operations. • 50% of women will, at some point in their life, rely on welfare or other government assistance program. These are staggering statistics, and they truly illustrate the need for more young women to enter the trades, construction, engineering and transportation fields. With such a large gap in open positions, and qualified employees, it make sense that employers would start looking outside the box to encourage a younger, more diverse workforce, into trades, skilled labor, construction and engineering. So, Why Does Your Business Participate in the Transportation and Construction Girl Summit? “Imagine going to work, and every day doing your job with one hand tied behind your back. That’s what it’s like when you only consider half the population for your workforce”, said Kristin Sullivan, Public Works Director for Adams County. by Tamara Moon