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As a dominant building contractor in various sectors from residential and multifamily to health care and education, Suffolk is aiming to boost the percentage of women employed in its firm from 28% to 38% over the next 10 years.

By internally composing project teams that are 30% women and launching community initiatives that encourage young girls to pursue STEM careers, the contractor is also attracting recent college grads through its rotational program called Career Start.

To celebrate Women in Construction Week, BUILDER asked Maureen Henson, Suffolk’s vice president of people and culture for the Southeast region, for more insight.

What are some of the community initiatives Suffolk is implementing to encourage school-age girls to participate in STEM?

Women have creative ideas that can change the world. Unfortunately, women make up only 9.9% of the industries that design and build that world, and the future does not look much brighter. Despite some interest in STEM-related fields from girls at a young age, women continue to be underrepresented in STEM-related careers.

Suffolk believes it is time for that ratio to change, which is why it launched its Rebuild the Ratio initiative several years ago to engage in meaningful partnerships nationally with organizations committed to growing women’s representation in STEM. For example, Suffolk teamed up with the Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts (GSEMA), the largest girl-serving organization in the commonwealth, to create a STEM curriculum customized for girls 5 to 17 years old.

“Juniors Who Build” successfully launched in March 2023 for girls in fourth and fifth grade, and the two organizations will launch a similar curriculum geared toward girls in second and third grade, called “Brownies Who Build,” this month. The curriculum will help Girl Scouts understand the steps of the construction process and learn more about potential careers in construction. The goal of this initiative is to expose young girls to the fascinating world of construction and provide mentorship and experiential learning opportunities. By 2025, the Girl Scouts hope to bring an estimated 2.5 million girls nationally into the STEM pipeline.

In addition to its partnership with GSEMA, Suffolk has partnered with a variety of organizations throughout the country to support efforts to grow women’s representation in the construction industry, including DIY Girls, The Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles, and ACE Mentor Program. Through meaningful engagement opportunities, Suffolk hopes to connect with the future builders of our communities and shine a spotlight on the many exciting possibilities that await them in construction.

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