August 29, 2016

Before DPR volunteers put on a series of after-school workshops for 130 third-through-fifth-grade girls at Girls Inc. of Alameda County clubs in the Bay Area this spring, the students mostly thought of a construction worker as a male in a hard hat and vest, swinging a hammer on a jobsite.

Now, those girls know that they can accomplish anything, and that there are no limits to what they can be when they grow up. They know they can be a project manager in charge of a multi-million-dollar construction project, an estimator using her math skills to deliver a winning bid or a BIM engineer creating a model for a complex job. 

“The volunteers who led the workshops for Girls Inc. opened up an entirely new perspective on careers in the construction industry,” commented Nicki Guard, community engagement manager for Girls Incorporated of Alameda County. “The activities allowed for unique insight into the diverse ways that women work in the construction industry. The women who partner with Girls Inc. role model women as project managers, engineers, architects and more. For the younger girls, they may not completely understand what is involved in each career, but they now have new vocabulary to talk about the industry and know women who are smart and successful at their work.”


Club-goers built DPR logos based on Building Information Model (BIM) details. Photo courtesy Rena Crittendon.

The workshops were held at four East Bay elementary schools and included hands-on building activities alongside DPR volunteers. The broader message, according to DPR’s event coordinator Rena Crittendon, was to model the many paths women can take to achieve a well-paying and satisfying job in the industry. The workshops also encourage and help educate the girls in the art of collaboration and teamwork.

“By the end of their workshop, a few of the girls raised their hands and said, 'you know, I might like to do this too.' In each of the sessions there were a few girls that were off on their own, but usually by the end of each activity, they were all in it and working together, collaborating on ideas,” Crittendon said. “That was really neat to see."


Photo courtesy Rena Crittendon.

DPR plans to continue the ongoing relationships working with Girls Inc. with an upcoming six to eight after-school workshops planned for the fall. The Bay Area region also helped provide laptops to 30 girls in Girls Inc.’s College Access program, and DPR has hosted a Girls Inc. intern for the past two summers.