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Women making inroads into industry

“I am woman. Hear me roar.” (Helen Reddy)

Debbie Roth of D.C. Burbach Inc., Waukesha, fills a curb and gutter with grading on 48th Street and National Avenue in Milwaukee last year. Scenes like this are becoming more commonplace in the industry. (File Photo by Dustin Safranek)

Debbie Roth of D.C. Burbach Inc., Waukesha, fills a curb and gutter with grading on 48th Street and National Avenue in Milwaukee last year. Scenes like this are becoming more commonplace in the industry. (File Photo by Dustin Safranek)

Last week during the Academy Awards, we witnessed history being made when Kathryn Bigelow won an Oscar for Best Director. She is the first woman to receive the award in this previously men-only category. And she did it by making a very macho movie about the war in Iraq called “The Hurt Locker.”

That led me to think about another male-dominated industry: construction.

Maybe women aren’t roaring yet — but definitely their voices are increasing in the construction industry.

Women have not only grown in the professional ranks of architects, engineers and project managers, but they’re also making their presence felt in the trenches. Women are members of platoons building homes, embedded in road crews, or mobilized at commercial sites.

But if you don’t think women are being empowered and making inroads in the construction industry. Check this out: Women in Construction Co. LLC based in Duluth, Minn. It’s a company run by and staffed entirely by women constructing new buildings and renovating older ones.

The company has its own cabinet shop to build kitchen cabinets or used for women to design and build furniture. There’s also has a training center, where women are encouraged to learn new trades.

“I am woman. Watch me grow.”

And here’s something very cool for women: your own line of funky, functional and fashionable work clothes.

There’s a company based in Chicago called Doe Work-Wear Corp., which is providing just that. The company hopes to “empower women through their choice of clothing,” according to its Web site. And it’s run by a woman who has been in the construction industry for more than eight years.

Women in construction. They’re here to stay, and growing in numbers too big to ignore.

Jan Basina, who has been in the construction industry for more than five years as a data reporter at The Daily Reporter, can be reached at (414) 225-1827.

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