Female CATEC Student Breaks Down Barriers in the Construction Field
ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - An Albemarle County student is breaking down barriers and building a name for herself. Men primarily dominate the construction industry but junior Abbie Norton is trying to change that one nail at a time.
Norton is a student at Western Albemarle High School but she spends much of her time at the Charlottesville Albemarle Technical Education Center (CATEC), taking a Building Trades Program.
NBC29’s Carly Kempler met with Norton to discuss her interest in the field and her experience as a woman in that line of work. It was an average day for Norton.
“I was really tired of just staying in my classroom all day,” said Norton. “I was more drawn to learning hands-on things that I could use actually in my daily life.”
Norton's doing work on a house that she and her fellow classmates are building as part of a class.
“We go into a lot of hands-on work, they learn how to estimate material, estimate studs for the house,” said Sid Trimmer, Building Trades Electrical Instructor at CATEC.
Norton earned a reputation as the best roofer in the class. She's one of few girls in the Building and Electrical Trades Program at the Charlottesville Albemarle Technical Education Center. Her instructor, Trimmer, noticed Norton’s talents early on.
“She’s deliberate, meticulous and gets it done right,” said Trimmer.
He said those traits are part of a pattern he's been seeing.
“Well, what I found out with the strengths of the young ladies is that they're more meticulous. When they get into it they seem to try to prove themselves against the boys,” said Trimmer.
It's not all about competition for Norton.
“My father was a captain in the Marine Corp for about 20 years, so there was a lot of times when he was overseas and it was just my mom and I. When things broke, we didn't have him there to fix and we were never the people to call someone,” stated Norton.
Now with every nail comes a lesson learned.
“It’s a wonderful feeling of like building something yourself, just doing like taking pieces and then putting them together it's like this big puzzle and then it's a sense of accomplishment when you finally have a final product,” said Norton. “It's not like writing an essay where you can delete what you said, it's you have to measure twice and cut once.”
Norton said she's hoping to attend Virginia Tech and study pre-med to eventually become a doctor. She has thought about pursuing the construction industry, but either way, she has a valuable new skill to help her throughout her life.