August 3, 2015

When it comes to girls learning about the opportunities available to them in the STEM (science, technology, math and science) careers, there may not be anything quite as impactful as hearing directly from other females already working in those fields.

As a way to share their experience in the field of construction, a half-dozen women from DPR’s Austin office took time out from their workdays July 7 to participate in a Toolbox Build event for 28 fourth and fifth grade girls who were participating in a Girlstart summer camp.

Photo courtesy Sharlym Aquino Gil, Director of Community Relations, Girlstart

Founded in Austin, Texas in 1997, Girlstart is the only community-based informal STEM education nonprofit in the nation specifically dedicated to empowering and equipping girls in STEM through year-round STEM educational programming. Girlstart programs are open to girls in grades K-16. The organization focuses on serving girls of minority backgrounds, who live in low-income or nonurban environment, and/or who are considered at risk academically by the Texas Education Agency.

Angie Weyant, who herself has an engineering degree and had been looking for a way to get involved in a volunteer effort with Girlstart, organized the toolbox build session. She said the summer camp session provided a great way for Austin DPR employees to share the many benefits and paths of construction careers.

“We had a really great cross-section of people who came out to share what we do, including someone from marketing, from preconstruction and a project executive, among others,” she said. Building the individual tookbox kits allowed hands-on interaction with the girls and the opportunity to talk about safety and other construction-related issues, she added.

The girls took home their assembled toolboxes and DPR-logoed safety goggles so they can continue working on their skills at home.

Photo courtesy Sharlym Aquino Gil, Director of Community Relations, Girlstart

“The girls all seemed to have a really good time, and we got to interact with them a lot during the building exercise,” Weyant added.

Girlstart later tweeted about the day, saying, “Thanks @DPR Construction for working with our girls at camp today!” They included a comment from one of the girls who participated, who said: “Now I can work with my dad with my own tool kit!”

All in a day’s work planting the seeds to build the next generation STEM workforce – one girl at a time.