LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – The growing demand for highly skilled workers, especially for those in trade careers, has inspired a renewed effort to bring more women into the traditionally male dominated industry of construction.
Leah Cesarini is a field office manager and technician with a contractor in Arkansas. She’s spent decades in the construction industry, working often up to six days a week with ten to eleven hour days — rain or shine.READ MORE: LA County Fire Crews Battling 100-Acre Brush Fire In Lancaster
“I was raising kids and needed a job,” she tells CBS affiliate KTHV. ”I got hired in as a flagger, started operating equipment and just moved up the ladder and I’ve been here 20 years.”
Cesarini says things look a lot different now for her than they did two decades ago.
“When I started, I barely seen any women,” she says. “Now we have around ten women throughout the company operating equipment, working in the office, field office and on up.”
Cesarini says women like her are more than capable at thriving in this career field.
“If you can operate an SUV full of soccer kids, you can operate any one of these pieces of equipment out here,” she insists.
The National Association of Women in Construction, NAWIC, is working to get that message out to young women across the country. A message especially needed in Arkansas as the state ranks in the bottom three for women in construction jobs. https://t.co/mfHz7YpHwE
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It’s that message women can do anything that Anne Pfleger, President of the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC), is trying getting out.
“I was asked recently about construction being a male dominated industry. I like to say it’s male populated because women are more at the forefront with boots on the ground and seats at the table. So yes we may only be only about 10 percent of the industry, but we are making an impact and a difference and we need to be sharing our stories.”
Local NAWIC leaders like Laurie Mullenax and Kimberly Moore speak to schools and community groups in the greater Little Rock area, letting young women know about opportunities.
“We are out there to support them and get them into this type of career,” Mullenax says.
Moore says young women are “amazed at how far a woman can go in the construction field and make a good living.”
Pfleger says now is the time for women to pursue careers in construction.MORE NEWS: Cal/OSHA Votes To Let Vaccinated Employees Shed Face Masks In The Workplace
“Baby boomers are retiring and we don’t have the workforce to fill as they are retiring,” she says. “That’s why we’re really trying to educate even more.”