Construction mentoring program recruits women

10-27-08 Construction Women
Hillery Pickel, a construction management senior, poses for a portrait in the Urban Systems Engineering building Thursday. A new mentoring program began this semester with a goal of retaining more female students in the school. (Damien Maloney/The State Press)
Published On:
Monday, October 27, 2008
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Women entering ASU’s construction school now have more incentives to stay.

The Del E. Webb School of Construction started the Advancing Women in Construction mentorship program in August. The program offers incoming female construction freshmen scholarships and mentors.

The program is designed to recruit women into one of the most traditionally male-dominated industries.

Jodi Menees, project coordinator for the construction school, said the school’s goal is to increase the retention rate of degree-seeking women in the school.

“We match girls with women who can show them what a valuable career the construction industry can be for a female,” she said. “We hope this will entice females to join the program.”

Currently only 15 percent of the construction school’s total enrollment is female, a number the school hopes to grow through this program over the next few years.

If students fulfill all the requirements for the mentorship program, they will receive a $1,000 scholarship that can be renewed.

Menees said they are still working out the scholarship details, but the program hopes to provide students money for four years.

The money is donated from more than 30 construction and construction-related companies committed to the program.

An important aspect of the program is the opportunity to interact with people in the construction industry, visit job sites, gain industry experience and network with prominent men and women in the industry, Menees said.

Concrete industry management freshman Ashleigh Feiring said she was recruited to join the new program her senior year of high school.

“I thought it would be a great opportunity to meet people and explore the industry,” she said.

Feiring is one of the few students who have a male mentor. In the few months since the program began, she has already visited a construction site with her mentor and met the boss of his company, a woman.

“It was amazing to see what she can do and to think that I could do that someday,” Feiring said.

The program’s mentors are mostly women who hold established positions in the construction business and help aspiring female construction majors explore the opportunities available to them in this growing industry.

There are currently 24 freshman enrolled in this program.

Spearheading this program is Carol Warner, president and chief operating officer of Johnson Carlier, an Arizona-based construction contracting company.

“I think the opportunities for women are absolutely tremendous with the work force as it relates to construction,” Warner said. “We need to bring into this industry talent, and women are as talented as men.”

Warner said many national construction companies are seeking women because they bring a different set of traits to the table, like organizational and communication skills and a focus on teamwork.

She said the program would expose female students to different types of jobs available in the construction industry.

“This program can open many doors for the students,” Warner said. “Employers will recognize that these women have the experiences and skills to be great leaders.”

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