Four Women First To Graduate From New Construction Class

BILOXI (WLOX) -- With hardhats on and tool belts ready, four women are taking on an industry where women aren't the norm. As of 2006, the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed women made up about nine percent of workers in construction.

Despite the small numbers, graduate Frances Walroth says now couldn't be a better time to get into the field.

"It has been my dream to be in construction because of the devastation here on the Gulf Coast," says Walroth.

"There's so much rebuilding work that needs to be done and so many people that are out of work.  It's a good time to start integrating women in the construction," Program Director Karissa McLane.

McLane says construction also tends to pay more than jobs women typically pursue.

"The Department of Labor says actually said that it's between 20 and 30 percent higher to work in construction than say retail," says McLane.

She says higher pay plays a major role in helping women, especially, single mothers become more economically empowered.

"Throughout a lot of applicants, we have seen several single mothers have looked forward to utilizing a career in construction to help them get their families ahead."

Walroth says she feels this program will open more doors for women in construction.

"I think we're going to get more opportunity to be in demand," says Walroth.

"My hope is that this program will be sustainable and continue helping women get in the field.  Hopefully, it can create a climate on the coast where women are welcome on construction sites and expected on construction sites," says McLane.

For more information on the program's next class, you can call the Women in Construction program at (228) 297-0965.