Michelle Miller, CBS News
BURLINGTON, Vt. -- Just three percent of women
work in construction, but now there's an unprecedented opportunity to get more
of them into the trade. The average construction worker is in his 40s and 50s
and getting closer to retirement.
"Seventy-five percent of owners say they face labor
shortages," says Tiffany Bluemle, who runs Vermont Works for Women, which
trains girls and women in nontraditional trades. "So why would you not
deliberately recruit 50 percent of the population for the jobs that you
Amy Judd, a college graduate, picked up a hammer 15 years
ago when she could not find a job teaching.
"It had never occurred to me that I would want to be a
carpenter," Judd says. "It took me 80 swings to finally actually hit the nail, but when I did, that
was my light bulb moment."
The economy is expected to add nearly 200,000 carpenters
"I don't think it's made clear for women in high
school to say, 'Hey, this is an option for you,'" says Sylas Demello, an
apprentice. "You can go into the trades. You don't have to go to
college. You can be an electrician, you can be a carpenter, you can be a
mason. You can do all this kind of stuff."
Last year, the Labor Department allocated close to $2
million in grants for women in "nontraditional" occupations like
"It's not always necessarily wearing a tool belt, carrying heavy
things," Judd says. "If you like just being creative, or designing
things, or problem solving, you can make a really good livable
The average wage for someone working in construction
is $26 an hour. Amy Judd now has her own business. Half of her eight
employees are women.