Thanks to a recent meeting with a newly formed group designed to attract women (and raise awareness of women’s contributions) to the transportation industry, White House staff members have become familiar with the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI).
Chaired by TTI Director of External Initiatives Melissa Tooley, the Women Leaders in Transportation Design and Construction Council (WLTDCC) — formed last year by the American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) — was invited to the White House to discuss the council’s current efforts to reach out to women.
“The White House Office of Public Engagement had heard about the council and the things we were doing to increase awareness of the contributions that women are making in the transportation industry and encourage women to consider careers in the transportation construction fields,” Tooley, the inaugural chair of WLTDCC, said of the May 30 meeting. “The White House staff members are interested in collaborating on some of those efforts. As a result of that meeting, I think we found out that some of our individual efforts can complement each other.”
According to its website, the White House Office of Public Engagement facilitates a “two-way dialogue, ensuring that the issues impacting our nation’s proud and diverse communities have a receptive team dedicated to making their voices heard within the Administration, and even more importantly helping their concerns be translated into action by the appropriate bodies of the Federal Government.” During the meeting, a member of the White House Office of Public Engagement discussed its efforts in promoting science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) to young women.
Since its inception, WLTDCC has created several initiatives to increase awareness and address the low percentage of women employed in the construction industry, including:
- an annual awards program to recognize and honor extraordinary efforts of individuals, companies and public agencies that have demonstrated leadership and dedication to innovation in the transportation design construction fields, as well as the promotion of women leaders within the industry;
- a “spotlight on women” webinar series conducted by women in transportation fields (one of the webinars was presented by TTI’s Ginger Goodin in March);
- a guest speakers program highlighting women leaders in transportation-related fields; and
- the future creation of a workforce development and mentoring program.
“During the White House meeting, I was able to share some of the things we have accomplished on the council,” Tooley said. “Of course, in sharing some of those initiatives, I couldn’t help but brag a bit about TTI and some of the accomplishments we’ve had regarding female leadership.” (The Institute was the first winner of WLTDCC’s Glass Hammer Award, honoring innovative diversity activities that have resulted in dramatic increases in the TTI’s female workforce during the last decade. See related story.)
Tooley and other members of WLTDCC say they are grateful for the opportunity to work with the White House.
“Promoting careers for WLTDCC is extremely important in order to let the younger generations know about all of the wonderful opportunities for them in this industry,” Allison Klein of ARTBA says. “Getting this career information out to industry partners and working with folks at the U.S. Department of Transportation and the White House Office of Public Engagement are essential to expanding this message around the country.”