April 14, 2015
By Jamie Yuccas
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Women are still breaking ground when it comes to working in a male dominated field, like construction.
But Minnesota is doing better, with big projects like the new Minnesota Vikings Stadium.
Since it’s Women’s History Month – we gathered a group of women at Mortenson Construction’s on-site office.
They are the faces who weld, haul trash, operate cranes and own construction related businesses, and their hard work is what makes them all Minnesotans to Meet.
The new Vikings Stadium is huge.
“Driving down 94, I’m like, “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe I’m in there!” It’s cool,” Maria Martinez, a pipefitter on the project, said.
“There’s a lot more to it than just lifting stuff. There’s a lot of brain power too, lots of math. I’m surprised how much math there is actually,” Martinez said.
Close to a hundred other women join Martinez in roles like laborers and crane operators.
Female owned Gunnar Electric is providing electricians, including three women!
“We’re doing some of the different suites, concourse, food service, concessions,” owner Laura Karow said.
Then there’s Michelle Kelm-Helgen, chair of the Minnesota Stadium Authority.
“We’re over nine percent of the project are women workers,” Kelm-Helgen said. “This has not been obviously a career that women have generally gone into. I think this project has really highlighted that it’s a different kind of career opportunity for women.”
A constantly changing work environment and good pay has Raeseda Jenkins coming back.
“That’s the part that keeps me here. I’m a mother of three. And so, without this career I don’t think I would be doing as well as I am,” Jenkins said.
However, dressing down is a challenge for the self-described girlie girl, who goes by “Ra-Ra.”
“Cheer for me! I used to be a cheerleader,” Jenkins said. “Take this hard hat off and these clothes off and I’m beautiful, baby,” Jenkins said.
That’s why some do little things in their off time to feel pretty, like painting their nails.
“It’s kind of a nice way to be a girl while still in the trades,” Martinez said.
But being a woman in a man’s world can be difficult.
“Being a little bit smaller you have to think through things a little bit more, like how you’re going to carry something. I can’t just lift it up and drag it with me like most men. I’ll have to go and find a cart, or figure a different way to lift it up,” Martinez said.
The ladies say the men appreciate their hard work and are respectful.
An attitude that can be cheered for long before any team plays inside these walls.