ROANOKE, Va (WFXR) — Efforts are being made in Roanoke to get more girls involved in construction. The construction company the Branch Group gathered dozens of young girls in the Roanoke Valley for a hands-on construction experience.

The Branch Group says only about 14% of the people in the construction industry are women– but they’re hoping to change that. They hosted the inaugural Girls In Real Life (G.I.R.L.) construction event Saturday, Oct. 22 to allow girls ages 5-18 to learn more about opportunities in the construction field.

Event attendee Lily, and her mom Cynthia, tell WFXR that the Branch Group’s efforts are impactful.

“Girls can do anything that boys can do…that’s right!” said Lily and Cynthia.

The Branch Group says the construction industry is facing a worker shortage of 650,000 this year. They’re hoping to help fill more positions by getting more women involved… starting at a young age.

Aisha Johnson is the Economic Inclusion and Diversity Specialist at the Branch Group, and she says women are often discouraged from the construction field because of the misconception that there are no opportunities for women.

“A lot of young ladies and women may shy away from it because they think it’s only for men and it’s not it’s for young ladies and young ladies have many options for careers in construction and can have a very successful career,” said Johnson.

The inaugural “G.I.R.L. Construction Event” served as an opportunity to spark interest in young women to join the construction industry.

“There are many different roles for anyone who’s interested in construction and women shouldn’t shy away from it because they have many different options,” said Johnson.

According to the Girl Scouts of Virginia Skyline Council– less than 12% of girls will consider a career in STEM by the time they enter high school.

“Construction is STEM so if there are women who are interested in STEM who excel in STEM and want a career in STEM they can definitely do that in construction,” said Johnson.

“They’re able to do the same things that guys do, and it’s fun,” said eventgoer Cynthia.

The Branch Group adds that beyond working out in the field, there’s a need for project managers, designers, engineers, clerks and so much more.