Dr. Mittie Cannon’s undeniable passion and unwavering commitment to empowering young women in the industry is inspiring and has brought much recognition to the opportunities that exist in construction. Dr. Cannon creates these moments of brilliance when individuals realize the immense depth of the industry and the many pathways available for career success.
When Dr. Cannon graduated high school, she pursued a career in the medical field. Receiving a biology degree, one of her first jobs post-college was managing a drug testing lab near a construction site. Noticing that few women ever crossed the entrance, Dr. Cannon’s interest was sparked about the industry. As she began researching construction, Dr. Cannon taught herself how to perform the basic duties of being a journeyman electrician’s helper and started working in that position in the industry. From there, she worked as an expeditor for instrumentation and electrical before moving into workforce development.
Dr. Cannon received her Doctorate in Educational Leadership from University of Phoenix, with a specialization in curriculum and instruction. Her dissertation addressed the topic “Exploring Reasons Women Choose to Pursue Entry-level Construction Trades Employment.”
Among her many accomplishments, Dr. Cannon recruited and mentored the first woman welder in the history of the ABC National Craft Championships to take top honors in welding. She has been recognized by the Birmingham Business Journal as one of Birmingham’s Top Business Women, inducted as Who’s Who in Black Alabama, and received accolades as a business leader and champion for women by the Birmingham Women’s Exchange. She has served on various boards and has been the past chair of the Advisory Council for the Career and Technical Education of the Alabama Department of Youth Services, ABC National Workforce Programs and Initiatives Committee, and the NCCER Workforce Development Committee.
For over two decades, Dr. Mittie Cannon has been engaged in workforce development in the construction industry. Over the years, she recognized that statistically the construction industry was consistently challenged to pull in a qualified and diverse workforce — specifically, the industries overwhelming deficit in female employees. Through recognizing this critical shortage, Dr. Cannon has developed a passion for exposing young women to careers in construction through innovative programing.
In early 2015, Dr. Cannon began envisioning a program that would introduce young women and their mothers’ to exciting careers in construction. To ensure success in her programing, she sought out partnerships with industry leaders who had also expressed a desire in bringing about a more diverse construction industry workforce. Dr. Cannon leaned on her community, the construction industry and educational connections, and in October 2015, a collaborative partnership was formed to present the signature program: Power UP: It’s a Mother-Daughter Thing! This collaborative partnership has had tremendous success and challenges the perception of women in construction. Fueled by Dr. Cannon’s personal passion to address the labor shortage, this innovative initiative works diligently to attract, educate and retain youth.
“I have not faced struggles in the industry myself, but I want to make sure that when young girls who are interested in construction knock on the door, myself or any other industry professional is there to answer it and any of their questions,” said Dr. Cannon. “That is where the real progress begins.”
Dr. Cannon remains passionate about creating opportunity for the craft professional — and particularly women in construction!
Want to Discover More? Check out the possible crafts and salaries available in construction. And once you are ready, start learning how individuals can create an action plan to start a career in the industry.