NewWave Logo

Rebuilding With ‘Sophie the Riveter’

January 25, 2008

New Wave staff

Build it and be empowered. What better way for educated women to prepare to live in a world in crisis than to learn to equally participate in the design, building and construction of the environment? That is the premise behind a course entitled “Sophie the Riveter: Women Rebuilding New Orleans.”

Contractor Julie Groth with students in the Sophie the Riveter course.=

New Orleans contractor Julie Groth, left, discusses tools with students in the “Sophie the Riveter: Women Rebuilding New Orleans” course. (Photo by Paula Burch-Celentano)

The idea that women schooled in the building arts are women prepared to confidently succeed is the basis for a new model of a course presented by the Newcomb College Institute.

“Sophie” is an upper-level course being offered at Tulane this spring semester, which started Jan. 14. During the three-credit-hour, 16-week course, students are learning green homebuilding techniques while rebuilding a single shotgun house in the Mid-City Historic District.

Team-teaching the course are Rebecca Mark, interim executive director of the institute, and Julie Groth, a New Orleans contractor.

An associate professor of English, Mark provides the theoretical aspects of the course while Groth emphasizes the power, leadership skills and physical strength needed by women to enter a space that traditionally has been seen as male domain. After learning basic construction and safety skills, students confidently can volunteer in the local rebuilding effort.

The course also will feature seminars, class venues throughout the New Orleans area, and readings on the city and the rebuilding effort. The Mid-City house, owned by Shannan Cvitanovic, is scheduled to be complete by May 1, and will be one of seven houses toured during the National Green Building Conference in town May 11–13.

“Sophie the Riveter” was first offered last year. During the semester, 15 students learned how to gut houses, float drywall and use a variety of power tools.

The Newcomb College Institute provides academic and cocurricular programs to enhance the education of undergraduate women at Tulane University. Established in July 2006, the institute oversees Newcomb Student Programs, the Newcomb College Center for Research on Women and the Newcomb Alumnae Office.


Citation information:

Page accessed: Saturday, May 28, 2016
Page URL:

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000