Inaugural “Girls In Real Life” event urges for more women in the construction industry

ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — Efforts are underway in Roanoke to get more girls involved in construction. Building company Branch Group brought together dozens of young girls in the Roanoke Valley for a hands-on building experience.

The Branch Group says that only about 14% of people working in the construction industry are women, but they hope that will change. They hosted the first Girls In Real Life (GIRL) building event on Saturday, October 22 to let girls ages 5-18 learn about opportunities in the building field.

Event attendee Lily and her mother Cynthia tell WFXR that the Branch Group’s efforts are having an impact.

“Girls can do anything boys can do…it’s true!” Lily and Cynthia said.

The Branch Group says the construction industry faces a shortage of 650,000 workers this year. They hope to help fill more positions by getting more women involved… from an early age.

Aisha Johnson is a specialist in economic inclusion and diversity within the branch group, and she says that women are often discouraged from the field of construction due to the misconception that there is no opportunities for women.

“A lot of young girls and women may shy away because they think it’s only for men and it’s not for young girls and young girls have many career options in construction and can have a very successful career,” Johnson said.

The inaugural “GIRL Construction Event” was an opportunity to spark the interest of young women to join the construction industry.

“There are many different roles for anyone interested in construction and women shouldn’t be shy because they have many different options,” Johnson said.

According to the Girl Scouts of Virginia Skyline Council, less than 12% of girls will consider a career in STEM by the time they enter high school.

“Construction is STEM, so if there are STEM-minded women who are excelling in STEM and want to have a career in STEM, they can definitely make it into construction,” Johnson said.

“They’re able to do the same things as the guys, and it’s fun,” said event attendee Cynthia.

The Branch Group adds that beyond field work, there is a need for project managers, designers, engineers, clerks and more.

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