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Young women take close look at construction careers at Plant Vogtle
The Augusta Chronicle

Waynesboro, 11/07/2014, Unabashedly donning a pink hard hat, Kayla Rhone stepped into a man’s world ready to prove she can handle a hammer and drive a forklift. Those with a double dose of the X chromosome, she said, can work in a construction zone just as well as men.

“Women have the ability to do everything the men do, but not many women know it,” said Rhone, a Burke County High School 11th-grader. “I am not afraid to show it. I’m proud to come in and be the minority and show I can do just as well as the men can.”

Rhone and 19 other Burke County High female students were introduced to carpentry, electrical work, welding and other basic construction skills during a weeklong camp that gave young women a closer look at the construction industry. The immersion experience ended with a tour of Plant Vogtle, where men largely outnumber women on the massive construction site for two new nuclear reactors.

During the Mentoring a Girl in Construction Camp, participants learned more about the industry from veteran females working in construction.

Vanella Perez, a field engineer and the only woman in her department at the Vogtle construction site, spoke to the campers, who peered through a chain-link fence at the world’s largest crane and giant submodules that will be assembled at the nuclear site.

Despite stereotypes, construction isn’t a job only cut out for men, Perez said.

There are rewarding careers available for women in the male-dominated industry, she said.

“Go for it. It’s challenging but you can bring out all your strengths and reach your goals,” Perez said.

Kneisha Newton, a ninth-grader, drove a scissor lift and backhoe and wired a simple circuit during camp. She hadn’t considered construction as a possible career, until watching her camp instructors.

“They really love their job,” Newton said. “They tried to show us and guide us and train us.”