DENVER (CBS4)– A local nonprofit is putting some serious girl power on display, encouraging young women to pursue non-traditional careers in transportation and construction. Monday is Denver’s third-annual Transportation and Construction GIRL Day event.
Its organizers, the HOYA Foundation, pulled out all the stops for the occasion.
“We’ve got an excavator simulator. We have a drone simulation, a mobile escape room. Almost 40 exhibits here,” Keller Hayes of HOYA told CBS4’s Mekialaya White ahead of the kickoff in Stapleton.
The day is designed to give girls hands-on experience in careers they wouldn’t commonly pursue with a four-year degree. The HOYA Foundation is hoping to break any stigmas around women seeking construction career paths.
“It’s really awesome for the girls to see just how some of this equipment operates and that they could actually do this, too,” said Keller. “There’s a lot of opportunity in these great careers.”
Currently, only 9.1% of the construction workforce are women. That number has increased from 8% since 2016, when the program launched.
Hayes says it’s a big victory that they’re gaining support from the state as well. In fact, Gov. Jared Polis officially proclaimed Sept. 23, 2019 “Transportation and Construction GIRL Day.”
“He is backing this day because in his proclamation he said it’s really important to support this sort of effort for our youth and for our infrastructure industry,” Keller explained.
She also hopes to raise awareness that while the careers aren’t traditional, they are lucrative.
“We really wanted to make sure girls had every opportunity possible and they knew that these careers exist, because they are great careers,” added Hayes.
In the general work force, women make 81 cents to the dollar that men make for comparable work. In the construction industry, women are making 95.7 cents to the dollar.
“They found out about careers they didn’t know existed. A brick mason can make $80,000 a year. A drone operator can make $82,000. A crane operator with one year of training can make $77,000.”
At the beginning of last year’s event, only 34% of the girls attending had pursued a career in transportation or construction. By the end, more than 71% said they were interested in those careers.