Need for women in trade careers inspires Rosie’s Girls Summer Camp

Middle-school girls explore STEM programs, professions with Dunwoody instructors.

Rosie’s Girls— a summer day-camp inspired by a program started by Vermont Works for Women and Girl Scout camp programming—launched its first-ever Minnesota camp at Dunwoody College late last month. The camp was held in partnership with Girl Scouts River Valleys.

Photo of all of Rosie's Girls

More than 40 middle-school girls attended, building their awareness of—and their experience with—STEM-related higher education programs and careers. The camp comes at a time when skilled trade jobs, especially those within the construction industry, are in need of more women workers.

Building trades need more women workers

Photo of girl building in the construction lab

Photo Credit: Girl Scouts River Valleys

“Our demographic is nine percent women and 91 percent men, so we need to make that change,” said Heather Gay, Construction Management Program Manager, in a recent Kare 11 interview.

Electrical Construction & Maintenance Principal Instructor Polly Friendshuh attributes those low numbers to a lack of exposure of STEM programs and careers to young students—especially women.

“By high school, most students have already chosen or have some idea of the direction they are going upon graduation—and most of those students never have any exposure to the construction trades,” she said.

“This camp provides that before they have a pre-conceived idea of what they want to go into and perhaps will spark the idea that there are many pathways available to them.”

Girls learn to build, weld, and wire at Rosie’s Girls

Photo of girls holding their Little Free Library

Photo Credit: Girl Scouts River Valleys

During the camp, the girls were able to participate in a wide array of hands-on, STEM-related projects, including building Little Free Libraries; welding sculptures; and wiring a switch, light and receptacle. For two weeks, campers were able to accurately see what a career in carpentry, welding, electrical wiring, drafting and design, or surveying could be like.

“It’s important for young girls to get exposed to the trades and skills early on so that they know it’s a career path,” Gay said in a KARE 11 interview.

Rosie’s Girls sparks confidence

When girls weren’t exploring Dunwoody labs and equipment, they were participating in other physical activities like rock climbing, archery, and team building games. Campers also worked on their leadership skills, participated in arts activities, and learned how to successfully work and communicate as a group.

Photo of girls holding power tools

Photo Credit: Girl Scouts River Valleys

Girl Scouts River Valleys’ staff noted that “by offering girls a chance to ‘do things’—particularly things they or the adults in their lives may not have believed were appropriate for girls to do—the Rosie’s Girls Program seeks to reverse the downward trajectory in girls’ self confidence.”

Friendshuh, who led a number of camp activities, said that not surprisingly not every girl identified with every activity and career—but it was an incredible feeling seeing those who did connect with an activity succeed and have fun.

Photo of girl welding in welding lab.“The trades can provide a career option that not only pays well but can be obtained without a four-year degree. I hope the camp helped them to gain a better idea of what a technical college is and what it can mean for them as they move on into high school and beyond.”

And while college plans and the girl’s professional lives might still be a ways off, Friendshuh said above all, she hoped the camp gave the girls “a sense of accomplishment, empowerment, and the realization that they can be anything they want.”

Photo Credit: Girl Scouts River Valley