Written by: Megan B. Owings
March 5-11, 2023, was “WIC Week™,” or “Women in Construction Week™,” which celebrates and promotes the role of women in the construction industry. NAWIC held the first WIC Week in 1998, and it has grown and expanded each year since. This year, the Maryland Asphalt Association’s 59th Annual Paving Conference occurred during WIC Week. The event started with updates from Stefani Martella of F.O. Day Company, Chairwoman of the Maryland Women of Asphalt.
Stefani took time to draw attention to WIC and share the mission of Maryland’s Women of Asphalt (WOFA). Their primary goal is to empower women in asphalt industry careers through three pillars: Awareness, Knowledge, and Community. WOFA strives to continuously build industry relationships and support local women in the industry while educating and inspiring the next generation of future women in asphalt. WOFA provides invaluable benefits, including networking with industry professionals around the state, personal and professional growth seminars, an opportunity to develop future workforce initiatives, philanthropy, and community events.
Stefani also shared information about an organization called The House that She Built. The mission of The House That She Built is to support workforce development initiatives in the construction industry by generating awareness of the skilled trades among women. The comments Stefani shared from this group tell a familiar story:
The problem is, a lot of women don’t know about these jobs, and they’re not taught that these are great potential careers for them from a young age. When you look at these careers, there is no reason that a woman can’t do any of these. In fact, there are so many brilliant women in the trades…most of them have been brought in by a male family member….
That is certainly true for me. My dad loves the construction industry – and I knew it. He brought me into construction, taking me to industry events when I was still in school and letting me work in the office on weekends and in the summers. There are so many roles in construction, ranging from work in the field to designing the job to be built and everything in between. Everyone has a part in increasing interest in the construction industry – workforce development! -, and that begins by sharing the many opportunities the industry offers everyone. This doesn’t just apply to women; the next generation and more diverse workers won’t know how great this industry is unless we tell them about it.