ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — A stateline non-profit is hoping to grow an industry for women.

Tradeswomen United of Northwestern Illinois held a formal launch on Wednesday. For so many who started this mission, or have gotten involved, it is helping give opportunity to learn more about this career path.

This is something that they never had.

“Something to be said for men to say, ‘yeah, women can do it,’ versus a woman to say, ‘I have done this,” said Dixie Perko, vice chair of Tradeswomen United (TWU).

The group hopes that becomes the reality for more women getting into the industry.

“Women, younger girls know that construction, a lot of people don’t think that it’s something that women do,” Perko said. “But like I said, I’ve been doing it for over 23 years, and it’s one of those things. It’s just trying to get the word out that there is a good opportunity, and that construction is a very good career option.”

Tradeswomen United of Northwestern Illinois is an initiative started by Project First Rate. All those in leadership roles are women, giving them opportunities that they never had when they were career hunting.

“It was hard to find another woman to relate to on a job site, and I just feel there we are perfectly capable,” said Carrie Crosby, leadership member for TWU. “We need to increase that solidarity and camaraderie, and we need more women on job sites.”

“My peers and sisters had to kind of go it alone, and with this group, we intend to be there for the new apprentices coming down to mentor or to support them, whatever needs they might have on the job sites,” added Sandra Sigala, president of TWU.

“Having problems with getting safety gear, because we’re a lot smaller in stature and size, so most of the stuff is produced and mass produced for men,” Perko said. “Well, it makes it hard for some of us to find safety on PPE (personal protective equipment) and other issues that we have on the job site.”

Tradeswomen United is for all women in the stateline.