Illinois lands $1.3M federal grant to promote more women in construction industry

The grant money comes as part of President Joe Biden’s signature $1.2 trillion infrastructure package signed into law almost two years ago, and aims to promote gender equity and inclusion in the male-dominated field.

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Acting Labor Secretary Julie Su Houston

Acting Labor Secretary Julie Su, pictured in July.

AP Photos

A $1.3 million federal grant to the Illinois Department of Labor will help bring more women into the construction industry, where they make up barely 4% of the workforce nationwide, officials say.

Acting U.S. Labor Secretary Julie Su will present the Tradeswomen Building Infrastructure grant alongside Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Wednesday during a news conference near the Kennedy Expressway on the Northwest Side, where a yearslong construction overhaul started earlier this year.

The grant money comes as part of President Joe Biden’s signature $1.2 trillion infrastructure package signed into law almost two years ago, and aims to promote gender equity and inclusion in the male-dominated field.

The funds will go to the state’s Department of Labor and the nonprofit Chicago Women in Trades, which will then dole out their own grants to a handful of workforce development groups putting together equity plans.

That includes apprenticeship programs and other pathways promoted by tradeswomen’s organizations to “bring more women workers into good jobs in the construction industry,” Su said in a statement.

“To build an economy from the bottom up and the middle out, we need a workforce that brings in all of America, and this grant and others like it help to do just that,” Su said, referring to the administration’s “Bidenomics” agenda for middle class advancement.

The federal dollars will also help state agencies come up with programs to diversify the clean energy sector as well, according to the Labor Department.

“I’m pleased that the Biden-Harris administration has recognized the hard work Illinois tradeswomen have put in for decades by offering support for the next generation of women training in a field that has for far too long excluded and underrepresented them,” Pritzker, a staunch Biden ally in the Democratic party, said in a statement.

The money is expected to be delivered to trade groups through the end of the year.

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