Student Reporting Lab-These Girls Build Their Future Every Time They Go to Construction Class
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High school students Channell Rogers and Sierra Buster refuse to let gender stereotypes prevent them from pursuing construction, a hobby they both enjoy and a career they both aspire to. Our Student Reporting Labs report as part of Outside the Box, a series on the ways that young people are challenging traditional gender roles.
By Timia Moore, SRL
Construction remains a field dominated by men. According to the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics, only 9 percent of construction workers are women.
Sexual harassment, a lack of information about opportunities in the field and inadequate instruction all contribute to the low number of women workers. But measures are being taken to change the industry’s attitude towards women, opening doors for more young women to pursue careers in construction.
Channell Rogers and Sierra Buster are two girls in the Construction Pathway at Woodward Technical High School Cincinnati who are stepping through that door. Woodward offers a hands-on learning and field experience in the areas of Construction and Community Design.
There, these young ladies are learning the algebra, geometry and physics involved in construction. They are learning how to set up small construction businesses, earn industry credentials and college credit. They also have an opportunity to express their talent and demonstrate their skills while doing something they love.
“It was something I always knew how to do. I was small playing with legos and ended up playing with tools,” Channell said. “It’s just something I love.”
Sierra and Chanell are breaking gender barriers every time they step foot into their construction class. Sometimes the work is hard but that doesn’t stop them from doing what they love to do.
Watch more stories of students challenging gender stereotypes, part of our series called Outside the Box.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And now we bring you a unique profile of two female high school students who refuse to let gender stereotypes get in the way of their passion for building and learning with their hands.
This is the fourth installment of our Student Reporting Labs series called Outside the Box, and it’s produced by the aspiring journalists at Hughes STEM High School in Cincinnati, Ohio.
NARRATOR: Only 9 percent of U.S. construction workers are women, which is a relatively small percentage compared to other industries.
In the morning, typical females have a hard time picking out what they want to wear, but not Sierra Buster and Channell Rogers. They worry about safety gear and tool belts. A hard hat and goggles are all they need each morning as they prepare to learn the skills required in the construction pathway.
CHANNELL ROGERS, Woodward Career Technical High School: I chose construction because it was a hobby to me. It was something I always knew how to do. I was small playing with LEGOs, and I ended up playing with tools. And it’s just something I love.
SIERRA BUSTER, Woodward Career Technical High School: My family is OK with all this. They — whatever I choose, I choose. They go along with me. They’re pushing me to motivate me to keep going.
CHANNELL ROGERS: I plan to be a carpenter, and just keep doing hands-on, just hands-on. I can’t just sit back and watch all the fun. I want to be able to tear things down, build it. It’s just a passion.
SIERRA BUSTER: What I have learned is how to use a power tool properly. There are a lot of things that can hurt you in construction. Like, you can poke your eye out.
CHANNELL ROGERS: It gets difficult working with the boys, but they get used to me, because I’m just as strong as them. I know just as much as them.
WEST DAVIS, Teacher, Woodward Technical High School: Some of the female students tend to be some of my better students, some of the sharper students, good leaders, good managers, and they do a great job.
JUDY WOODRUFF: To see more student-produced stories that reveal how today’s teens are breaking down gender barriers, visit the Outside the Box page on our Web site, PBS.org/NewsHour.