By Kent Berkley
Door County architect Virge Temme is well known for her advocacy to bring sustainable architectural design into the mainstream. She has an equally strong passion to promote gender equity within the construction industry. One reason Temme received the Women in Sustainability Leadership Award from the U.S. Green Building Council in 2017 is that she is using her leadership status to support younger women who are trying to break into the field. Temme reports that less than nine percent of people in the construction industry are women and less than one-half of one percent of general contractors are women. As one among few of the female general contractors, Temme looks for male and female contractors who are competent in understanding gender equity issues and enthusiastic to mentor young women.
Temme says that it is important for high schools and technical schools to engage in targeted recruitment of females into classes that promote careers in the construction industry. She emphasized that there is a shortage of workers in the industry and promoting access for girls will not displace opportunities for boys. She also believes that having more girls in programs will bring benefits that cut across gender lines such as more using more intelligent materials and safer construction practices.