Empowering Girls in Construction and the Building Trades: Celebrating Remarkable Young Leaders

Girls Who Build Classroom

By Elisa Basnight, GAN Founder


The recent Girls Who Build conference in Northwest Arkansas brought together remarkable young leaders, educators, professionals, and advocates dedicated to empowering the next generation of women in construction and building trades. Among the attendees were individuals who shared their inspiring journeys, highlighted the importance of imagination, vulnerability, and seizing opportunities in traditionally male-dominated industries. Let’s delve into the memorable highlights of the event and explore the urgent need to invest, inspire, and support more girls in the building trades.

Remarkable Highlights

  1. Bobbi Buchanan’s Career Journey in Wastewater Management: Bobbi’s career journey in wastewater management serves as a reminder that with determination and perseverance, women can excel in fields where they are underrepresented. Her message, “you are only limited by your imagination,” resonates deeply with aspiring young women considering careers in construction.
  2. Jessica Imel’s Vision for Ignite Professional Studies Program: Jessica’s incredible vision for the Ignite Professional Studies Program underscores the importance of innovative educational initiatives that expose young women to diverse career paths, including those in construction and the building trades.
  3. Ryann Hartley’s Courage in Construction: Ryann’s journey in construction, marked by vulnerable moments and taking chances, inspires girls to embrace challenges and pursue their passions fearlessly in male-dominated industries.
  4. Hannah Wiertzma’s Passion for Outdoor Work: Hannah’s passion for outdoor work and her experiences in construction excavation exemplify the diverse opportunities available within the building trades. Her story encourages girls to explore unconventional career paths and discover their strengths in hands-on roles..
  5. Insights from Jenny Marrs’ Career Journey: Jenny Marrs’ experiences with HGTV’s “Fixer and Fabulous” and Marrs Mercantile offer valuable insights into the multifaceted nature of careers in construction and design. Her journey exemplifies the potential for creativity and entrepreneurship in the building trades.
  6. Cori Wilson’s Wisdom on Decision-Making: Cori Wilson’s wisdom on building upon choices and decisions in life reinforces the importance of resilience and adaptability in navigating career paths. Her advice resonates with girls facing decisions about their futures in construction and the building trades.
  7. Debbie Jones, Ed.D.’s Empowering Message: Debbie Jones, Ed.D.’s emphasis on self-determination—”It’s all in you to decide who you want to be”—inspires girls to take ownership of their futures and pursue their passions without limitations.
  8. Breakout Sessions and Personal Stories: Breakout sessions, such as the welding track with Talitha Allison, provided girls with valuable insights and personal anecdotes from women already thriving in construction and the building trades. Talitha’s humorous approach to her career path highlights the importance of authenticity and embracing one’s unique journey.
Girls Who Build Class

Investing in Girls in the Building Trades: With a stellar line-up of speakers, breakout sessions and networking, the day was beyond inspiring for Girls Action Network (GAN) to collaborate as a Community Partner around workforce development synergies with numerous stakeholders committed to empowering girls in the building trades and construction. As represented by dynamic leaders in the Ignite program, local schools, businesses, and dedicated mothers, there is a growing recognition of the importance of unlocking opportunities for girls in traditionally male-dominated industries.


THANK YOU Bentonville Schools and the Ignite program, the corporate vendors, educators and parents for your unwavering commitment to empowering the girls of Northwest Arkansas on their career exploration paths in construction and the building trades, a critical sector of GAN’s 3S Workforce. The Girls Who Build conference serves as a testament to the power of mentorship, advocacy, and community collaboration. As we celebrate the remarkable young leaders who are breaking barriers and forging paths of success, let us continue to invest, inspire, and support girls in unlocking their full potential in the construction and building trades. Together, we can build a more inclusive and diverse workforce for the future.

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