NEENAH, Wis. (WFRV) – Stereotypes are widely held beliefs about a specific group and one local construction company is aiming to break the stereotype that women don’t belong in the industry.

Miron Construction’s sixth annual ‘Build Like a Girl’ event welcomed 30 female students to its headquarters in Neenah for a day-long program to showcase opportunities for women in the construction industry.

The goal of the program is to combat both the severe lack of women in the construction field and the skill gap affecting the construction industry.

Girls from seventh to tenth grade were invited out to talk with women in the industry, get a tour of an active project site, and discuss surrounding topics such as wages in the industry, apprenticeships, and work zone safety.

“A mere one percent of field laborers are women, and only 9.9 percent of the construction industry is comprised of women,” said Dave Walsh, executive vice president of human resources for Miron Construction. “These statistics show the lack of gender diversity within the industry. At Build Like a Girl, we give young women the chance to spend a day learning and participating in activities related to realistic careers, which helps to increase gender diversity in construction and fill the skilled trades gap with passionate and smart individuals.”

The program also has Miron craftspeople walking participants through multiple hands-on activity stations at a temporary project site. The girls will get a chance to construct a brick wall, assemble a buddy bench, and experience what it’s like to operate heavy machinery like a crane or boom lift.

“For girls at this age to get exposed to [the construction industry] and to see what kind of careers they can have, what does it look like on a daily basis, I think it’s amazing,” said Karen Newhouse, who has been working in construction for 30 years.

Newhouse explained to Local 5 News that it’s not hard for girls to get into the construction industry, rather it’s a problem with perception. “I don’t think girls even think of it as an option so they think it is going to be harder than it is,” added Newhouse.