SUFFOLK LAUNCHES NEW INITIATIVE TO INCREASE THE NUMBER OF WOMEN IN CONSTRUCTION AND STEM
The gender gap that currently exists in the construction workforce is well-known. What may not be, however, are the numerous efforts AGC of America and its members are taking to remedy this problem. To that end, Suffolk, a member of multiple AGC chapters, recently unveiled Rebuild the Ratio, an initiative dedicated to increasing visibility and career opportunities for women and girls in the construction and STEM industries.
Only 9.9 percent of construction workers and 28 percent of the STEM workforce is comprised of women. While a study conducted by Girl Scouts of the USA found that 74 percent of teen girls said they were interested in STEM, with 81 percent of these girls considering careers in STEM fields, only 13 percent of those girls decide to actually pursue those careers.
“The disparity between men and women in the construction industry is no secret,” says Lea Stendahl, executive vice president and chief marketing and strategy officer for Suffolk. “This is what inspired Rebuild the Ratio, which is designed to pique and support girls’ career interest in STEM-related fields. We need to provide more opportunities for women to join an exciting and rewarding industry. We realize this is a marathon and not a sprint, but we believe there is no organization better suited to lead the charge than Suffolk.”
With the launch of Rebuild the Ratio, Suffolk pledges to increase the percentage of women employed by the company by 10 percentage points over 10 years, which is a dramatic increase that will provide more jobs for women and boost the percentage of women employees to near 40 percent. As a first step, Suffolk is partnering with Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts and YouthBuild Boston to offer a custom STEM and construction curriculum, comprised of workshops, events and volunteer opportunities, that will be targeted for Girl Scouts aged 5-17 years. These three organizations commit to bringing 10 percent of all Girl Scouts in the region through the curriculum in 10 years. The program will be developed so it can easily be scaled and rolled out to other regional Girl Scout councils to bring STEM Career exploration programming to thousands of girls throughout the country. This partnership supports Suffolk’s commitment to providing the tools and skills necessary for future generations of women to enter and remain in construction and STEM fields.
“Rebuild the Ratio is an incredibly important milestone for our organization,” says John Fish, chairman and CEO of Suffolk. “We believe it is our responsibility, as an organization and as an industry, to provide the resources and education young women and girls need to pursue a career in the thriving fields of STEM and construction. Rebuild the Ratio is just the beginning of this effort and underpins our long-term ambition to help close the gender gap in construction and STEM.”
To shine a light on its new commitment, Suffolk launched Statistically, a video campaign that highlights how many ambitious young girls interested in STEM and construction careers at a young age often lose their interest in those career paths over time due to stigmas and inaccurate assumptions about girls and their areas of interest and skills.
The short film showcases poignant statistics while providing context and ways employers, colleagues, parents and friends can encourage women to harness their prowess for STEM and construction.
With more efforts like this, the race to close the gender gap may become a sprint after all.