It all started with my daughter Reese and her love for excavators. While driving around town, she would yell, “Excavator” from her car seat as we passed construction sites. I would respond, “An impressive rig! Its main job is to…” Reese would finish in response, “Dig, dig, dig!” We continued the tradition after my son was born.
With the peak of the #MeToo movement a year ago came a cultural awareness of representation. It made me take a closer look at how women were included or portrayed in various areas of my life. I realized that the construction-themed books we were reading to Reese did not have any women in them. Not even one. This was the first sign for me. What message was that sending to my equipment-loving daughter? I want her to grow up believing that with passion, grit, and hard work, she can be anything. I want my son to grow up seeing that a female welder or sprinkler fitter isn’t a novelty.
Around that same time, in the winter of 2018, I attended an event put on by the local school district designed to introduce 10th grade students to the trades. As I watched students laugh with each other while they donned harnesses and balanced on steel beams at the ironworkers’ booth, I overheard a teacher admonishing a student, “See, this is where you will end up if you don’t start doing your homework.” I was horrified and livid. In hindsight, I wished I had marched over to them and said, “Listen, if you want to make two-to-three times more than your classmates with degrees will make and be able to drive your grandchildren around town one day and say, ‘I built that’, these careers are for you.” But I didn’t speak up. I stayed silent and started brainstorming ways to change society’s perception of our industry.
I mulled over the two needs I had identified:
Laura grew up exploring the woods and mine-pits of Virginia, MN. She has always been a book worm and was often reprimanded as a child for sneaking a flashlight and a book under her covers and reading well past her bedtime. Her mission in life is to embrace adventure and instigate fun.