LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - When Chelsea Ellis graduated high school, she set out to address the lack of women and minorities she saw in construction. Now she’s working to help millennials learn to make their own way.
“They’re always surprised by my age, and that I started right out of high school,” Ellis said.
The 24-year-old joined Jim Reynolds Asphalt Sealcoating with major plan in mind.
“People are happy to see a different face in this industry,” Ellis said.
Her goal was to reconstruct, the construction business.
“I know it’s something we can do,” said Ellis. “It would open a lot of doors for us as women and minorities.”
Ellis worked her way up to running the Sealcoating company, and has a mission to diversify the workers in her field.
“I can count them on my hands the number of women I have seen,” said Ellis’ father Samuel Ellis.
Samuel Ellis taught his daughter the basic skills of the family business growing up. She said instead of going to college and collecting debt, she picked up a trade. That’s a path she said could benefit more women, students and minorities.
The National Association for Women in Construction reports in 2016 there was one woman for every ten men in the field. As president and co-owner of her company, Chelsea Ellis has recruited more women to join the business.
“It’s inspiring,” employee Macie Johnson said. “[It] gives you hope. Lets you know I didn’t make the wrong choice going to a trade school there’s a future in the field.”
Ellis said there’s pressure to go to college then get a job. But she wants others to know that’s not the only path to success. She wants women to know they can set the bar in a male-dominated industry.
“I learned how important it is to have a skill, and how far you can get when you have a skill you will never forget in life,” Ellis said.