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Hampton Lumber empowers women in the trades industry with Girls Build

Hampton Lumber partnered with Portland-based nonprofit Girls Build last summer to bring a new week-long summer camp for girls to Warrenton, Oregon. The camp was such a success that Hampton worked with Girls Build to offer it again in Warrenton this August, and added another location in Tillamook.

The program introduces 8- to 14-year-old girls to the fundamentals of building. They learn firsthand about carpentry, plumbing and electricity. For Hampton, camps like these provide much needed opportunities to build girls’ confidence and interest in the trades.

“Hampton’s sponsorship of two weeks of camp is critical in our expansion to reach girls who love to put to use our programming,” said Katie Hughes, Executive Director at Girls Build. “We were beyond excited when Hampton offered to sponsor a camp In Tillamook.”

“Camps like Girls Build help build skills and confidence and shed light on opportunities in the trades, where there is a disproportionate lack of women,” Steve Zika, Hampton Lumber CEO, said in a press release.

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women account for 9 percent of the construction industry’s workforce. In wood manufacturing, women are also under-represented. “Women only make up about 15 percent of our workforce company-wide and an even smaller percentage of our skilled trades positions” says Hampton’s Director of Public Affairs, Kristin Rasmussen. “And we’re struggling to fill positions for electricians and millwrights in our sawmills,” she adds. “It’s a problem if half the population doesn’t see this line of work as a viable career option.”

Rasmussen says a contributing factor is a lack of exposure to trades activities. “If you haven’t participated in activities associated with carpentry, electrical or welding in your youth, you might be less inclined to consider a career in those fields.  That’s part of what makes the experiences Girls Build provide so valuable.”  However, Rasmussen believes there’s more companies like Hampton can do.  “As an industry, we need to raise awareness about the good jobs available in wood manufacturing. Someone can enter one of our sawmills at a starting wage of around $18/hour. We offer on-the-job training and apprenticeships for electricians, millwrights, and saw filers—there are good careers available to anyone willing to work hard and learn.  Considering jobs in the forest sector pay roughly twice the average wage in the rural communities where we operate, girls and women need to know such opportunities are available to them.”

For more information about upcoming camps or to plan ahead for next year, visit www.girlsbuild.org.