Less than 10 percent of positions in the construction industry today — whether it is project management, architecture planning, or engineering — are held by women.

It is even lower for skilled trades roles in plumbing, electric, and more, with women holding only 3 percent of positions.

In light of this growing workforce gap, Virginia Tech Facilities is making active efforts to attract more women to its talent pipeline and support women currently in facilities and construction roles at Virginia Tech.

Women in Construction Week is one such example of the department’s commitment to helping women succeed.

Hosted annually in March as part of a National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) initiative, Women in Construction Week promotes women as a viable component of the construction industry and offers women in the industry the occasion to come together to bring attention to the cause.

In honor of Women in Construction Week, women working in Virginia Tech Facilities recently came together March 4-8 for an array of networking, professional development, and social activities, including construction jobsite tours, lunch and learn sessions, and a movie screening of “Sisters in the Brotherhood: A Film about Women Carpenters.”

Virginia Tech Women in Construction Week efforts were led by Joy Manning, capital construction and renovations project manager, who has served in the construction industry for almost 22 years in a variety of program and project management roles in university and private sector settings. In addition, Facilities leaders Nida DeBusk, Katrina Estep, Kina Kelly, and Marianne Ouren were instrumental in coordinating the week’s activities.

“We’re very pleased to be able to offer a platform for women in Virginia Tech Facilities to come together to network and have meaningful dialogue around engaging the next generation of women in facilities and construction,” Manning said.

In addition to Women in Construction Week, Virginia Tech Facilities continues to explore other channels for connecting women to industry careers, especially at the K-12 level.

Each summer, Facilities participates in the Division of Operations Girls Day event. Female students from middle schools in Montgomery County, Roanoke City, and other local schools have the opportunity to visit campus and participate in hands-on activities, tours, and demonstrations related to jobs in operations fields and speak to women in these fields at Virginia Tech about their careers.

Throughout the academic year, Facilities welcomes elementary, middle school, and high school students for tours and information sessions with the aim of exposing students to STEM career paths. At the university-level, Facilities offers multiple internship opportunities in construction, energy management, sustainability, and more, for students to gain valuable professional exposure and experience in the industry.

In addition, Facilities strives to engage men and women already serving in the department in new career paths within the trades through its extensive apprenticeship program.

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