Past winners of the Women in Construction Week Photo Contest lined the Minnesota State Capitol rotunda in early March. What started over the years on the grassroots level in Minnesota now takes submissions from across the country. People stopped to look at the prints, underscoring the purpose of the contest: It replaces a narrative. You see faces, real people who make up the statistics.

 According to the U.S. Dept of Labor statistics women have increased their numbers in the building trades, up to 10.8% in 2023 from 8.9% in 2010. The photos women take of themselves out on job sites transform an idea into a reality. There is career opportunity for women and for everyone, to those who are willing to show up early, work hard and be part of a team.

 “We are celebrating women in construction and promoting their abilities not from a place of grievance, but of gratitude,” said Jenny Winkelaar, a Women in Construction Week board member from IUOE Local 49. “Women feel so grateful for the opportunity, the wages and the benefits. We work hard for it and it is not taken for granted.”

Women in Construction Week in Minnesota features mentoring events, career development sessions, site tours and, of course, the photo contest awards ceremony ceremony held at the Iron Workers Local 512 JATC in St. Paul.

 Barry Davies, the business manager at Local 512, is the only male on the Women in Construction Board of Directors. He doesn’t mind being the minority guy. He’s come to admire the way the women encourage each other, the way they “pull each other along.” They show each other what’s possible in this career.

“The men and women are not two separate teams,” says Davies. “We are all doing what’s best for the industry.”