GSEMA is comprised of 20,000 Girl Scouts in 178 communities in eastern Massachusetts and is the largest girl-serving organization in the state.
“The Girl Scouts’ four pillars are STEM, Outdoors, Entrepreneurship, and Life Skills,” said Libby Murphy, Project Executive at Suffolk. “The similarities between those pillars and the construction industry, it just makes for such a fitting partnership. I’m so happy that I get to be involved in it.”
Industry studies show that 74 percent of teen girls said they were interested in STEM, with 81 percent considering a career in a specific STEM field. But only 13 percent will pursue that career. Suffolk’s Rebuild the Ratio initiative seeks to make a change in those statistics by providing mentorship and accentuating representation of women in construction in a positive way, while exposing girls to construction and STEM fields at a young age.
“It’s really important for Suffolk to showcase the mentors and the women that we have here to really dispel that myth that construction is not for women,” Murphy said.
To begin the day, the Girl Scouts were introduced to Suffolk and its projects, were given a tour of the headquarters, and engaged in a question-and-answer session with Suffolk female leaders. The girls were also taken to Suffolk’s CoLab, where they used virtual reality to tour projects that have not yet been built, and participated in STEM activities like the popsicle stick challenge, where they built structures out of popsicle sticks to see how many books they could hold.
Women from the team working on the Northeastern University EXP project also gave the Girl Scouts a jobsite tour to show them the different roles within a construction project. The Northeastern University EXP project is led by a female project executive, and the project team is nearly 50 percent female.
“Our goal was really for the girls to be able to understand and see the different career opportunities, not just in Suffolk but in the construction industry as well,” Murphy said. “It was cute to see that they were so eager to tell you about all the different people that they know, like, ‘My uncle is an architect’ or ‘My father is a plumber’ and they know all these different tradespeople. But what we really want to do is help them see that women are also in these roles. So it’s something that they can achieve as well.”
“At Suffolk, we have gathered a group of women in our operations group — estimators, project management, supers, planners — to create this curriculum,” Murphy said. “It’s a patch that’s going to show all of the opportunities that are out there in the construction industry. Not just in Suffolk, but in the industry overall.”
Suffolk is planning on doing a soft launch of the curriculum for the Girl Scout level, Juniors, this fall. The company will collect feedback and then officially launch the curriculum in the spring. After the initial launch, Suffolk plans to expand the curriculum to other levels of Girl Scouts.