This week is Women in Construction Week.
The current president and president-elect of the Guam Chapter of the National Association of Women In Construction spoke with Newstalk K57’s Patti Arroyo about the commemoration.
According to the National Association of Women in Construction, also known as NAWIC, Women In Construction Week is meant to highlight women as a viable part of the construction industry as well as raise awareness of the growing opportunities available for women in the field.
NAWIC Guam Chapter president Selina Ashland, who is also the general manager of Island Equipment Company, said the organization strives to change gender-based expectations and stereotypes of what it means to be in the construction industry.
“We’re an organization led by women and for women, and our mission is to enhance and empower the success of women in the construction industry. And you know, we’re trying to change the face of the industry from … you know … from a big, sweaty man to a properly accessorized female,” Ashland said.
NAWIC was founded in Fort Worth Texas in 1953. The Guam chapter was founded in March of 2012.
Among its programs to promote the growth of women in construction, NAWIC has an education fund that offers professional certifications.
The organization also has programs and competitions to reach out to women and young girls who are still in school, to build their skills, and encourage them to reimagine the possibilities of women in construction.
Joanne Messier, NAWIC Guam Chapter president-elect and operations manager at Architectural Painting Services, says that she’s seen firsthand how NAWIC can inspire women.
“I saw how empowering it was to women in construction. How the whole idea is to…just like doctors. Before, women couldn’t be doctors. Now, nobody thinks twice about a female doctor. And that’s what we want it to be. We want a construction worker to be a gender-neutral image,” Messier said.
NAWIC had to change the way they celebrate Women In Construction week this year because of the pandemic.
One of the events they plan to hold will be a drive for menstrual products at Inarajan Middle School to support Project Sottera.
On Saturday, they’ll hold a drive at Guma San Jose for high-need items such as toiletries and food items.
Last week, NAWIC Guam renovated Guma San Jose with new paint, repairs to the fire suppression system, and other improvements.
In the coming weeks, Senator Amanda Shelton will introduce a legislative resolution to recognize the organization’s efforts.
Ashland said that it’s’ all worth it to help women contribute their talents and find their place in a traditionally male-dominated field.
“You know, it doesn’t make sense to discount almost half the population, especially when you’re saying there’s a labor shortage. So for women, there is a number of opportunities, and we just want to be there to help support females to enter into the industry,” Ashland said.