ST. LOUIS – At the Teamsters Local 682 union hall off Elizabeth Avenue, women in the construction industry were trying to showcase the opportunities that awaited others.

“You can be a painter, a floor layer, an ironworker, a sheet metal worker, and an electrician,” said Beth Barton, co-founder of Missouri Women in Trades & Carpenter Local 1596. “All those trades have subtrades. You could be a bricklayer or a roofer. There’s just so many things you can do.”

Barton had been a registered nurse when she made the change to become a carpenter 20 years ago.

“That is why it’s super important for events like this to happen so that we can bring as many people into this industry as we can,” said Stacey Lampe, project manager for Kozeny Wagner Construction and member of the National Association of Women in Construction. “Because we’ve seen a major shortage, and I think for the longest time it was considered the old boys club, and a lot of females never thought this is something they should consider.”

Women in the construction industry now accounted for around 10% of the workforce. The need is the highest it’s ever been and is expected to grow once the federal infrastructure spending kicks into high gear.

“I walk out of the job with my head held high, and other women are even proud of me,” Barton said. “If I stop by the grocery store in my work clothes, I’ll get a smile and wave from other women. It happens all the time because women aren’t used to being included here, and we know the value of participating in this.”

Organizers said there are full benefit packages including health, retirement, and paid training, which they said are just a few of the many reasons women should consider a trade.