All-girl class promotes stress-free, skill-building environment

girls-shopNationwide, at most 3 percent of trades workers are women. But in a Sherwood High School welding, computer technology and woodshop class, it’s completely the opposite. Every student is female.

“Imagine, Design & Build It — No Boyz Allowed” easily filled to capacity this fall, as it has every year since the course debuted in 2009.

That first year, teachers hoped 60 girls would sign up, according to woods and construction teacher Jon Dickover. Instead about 120 expressed interest. The school doesn’t advertise or promote the course, called NBA by students and staff; its popularity has come just from word of mouth.

“There’s less pressure because we’re all girls,” said sophomore Maddy Griffin, who is taking the class this year. “You feel more confident. You can take a lot of these skills and use them.”

Providing early skills training is crucial, according to the nonprofit Oregon Tradeswomen Inc., as exposure during school can open doors to family-wage careers.

(Next page: How school staff support the class’s development)