When thinking of a male-dominated industry, the construction sector comes to mind. This isn’t just the case in the United States but also worldwide. However, the women of today are fearless, uncompromising, talented, and are bringing a voice across the trades in support of the female workforce. It isn’t a man-only world anymore, and women are receiving better salaries and securing leadership roles. From crane operators to civil engineers and carpenters, women in construction can be seen everywhere. Female professionals may be largely underrepresented, but the numbers are optimistically rising. If you are looking to make a thriving career in construction, this article answers some commonly asked questions to clear the clouds of confusion.
Of all the people working in the construction sector, close to 11% are women. Even smaller is the number of women in management or front lines. Apart from male supremacy, the gender gap mostly prevails due to unconscious bias. There are so many negative perceptions around women in construction as well as inadequate training. However, the sector is expected to add about 2 million jobs by the end of 2022, and recruiters are looking to hire female professionals and benefit from their skillsets on and off the worksite.
The sector isn’t gender-based, and anyone can work in it. Those who say women cannot work in construction are only part of the social stigma problem realized by society. Females have multiple opportunities, including designing, planning, business development, insurance, contracts, health, and safety. Sure there are roles in construction that require physical fitness and ability, but that is again individual-oriented, not gender-based. Even if there are challenges, you can overcome those and inspire others.
There are not any roles females cannot have on a modern construction site. Despite the negative preconceptions of women in construction, many are building successful paths for themselves.
Jobs held by women include those in management, sales and office, transportation, service occupation, and construction and maintenance. More than half of the women prefer working off-site, but you still have many roles to occupy on the site.
Out of all the women in the construction sector, 44% are currently employed as construction managers or in other managerial roles. The opportunities are increasing gradually, and the gender pay gap is negligible, provided you have the right skills and work with a reliable firm.
There aren’t many female builders in the industry simply because of the society’s lack of flexibility and acceptance. Most women are looking to secure stable jobs or aspire to reach managerial positions, but construction fails to encourage women enough. However, those in the industry (NAWIC) are establishing a support system they never had for the upcoming professionals to provide adequate resources and help them understand their opportunities.
Women in the country own close to 13% of the construction firms. In 2020, close to 4% of new construction firms were launched by women. And, 9% of women-led construction firms have achieved revenues over $500,000.
Construction is a white (and male) dominated profession. Gender bias prevails, which is felt even more by women of color. However, many black-owned construction companies and training courses are breaking the ground. These encourage aspiring black women to stay determined and not give up on their fight. While it is true that businesses too may be lagging due to the trouble of getting approved than their white counterparts, there is a bright side too. We are seeing an increase in employers as well as businesses attempting to attract more minority employees.
The lack of effort to recruit females is a significant reason the numbers are small. And again, the stubborn stereotypes in a male-only sector do not allow young girls and women to enter the industry. Some women simply have no idea construction is a possibility for them or how lucrative and satisfying the work environment may be for the right candidates.
Today, women in construction are working on-site and off-site as workers and as administrative leaders. Despite the risk of injury, discrimination, exclusion, and pay gap, women are overcoming these issues and excelling. But how do you get into the profession with all these obstacles?
Acquire a relevant degree or certification. Build your understanding of the type of work available or work you can perform. Obtain proper training or paid apprenticeship to develop the necessary skillset. You can also pursue specialty areas from organizations like NICET, ACI, or AIC. Ultimately, certified individuals can get hired at reputable companies.
There is no denying that many females land in minority positions across the industry until they fight the odds and prove themselves. Encouraging more women to enter construction may require governmental legislation and guidelines. Moreover, construction companies can initiate and advocate the change.
Businesses must work on bridging the pay gap, which may be negligible on the outside but remains evident when you take a closer look. Women must also be provided with genuine opportunities, better placements, recognition, an improved working environment, and a modern industry image. This will benefit both women and men and only help in employee retention in the long run.
WIC Week or Women in Construction Week is dedicated to celebrating the female workforce in the industry and encouraging many more to begin a career in construction. Women in Construction Week raises awareness around the challenges women face when they start in this profession and daily obstacles and shut doors when trying to move up the professional ladder. Conferences, seminars, and many other such sessions encourage women to be the best at their job, utilize the available opportunities, and excel in their careers. People on-site, at work, and educational institutions display posters to encourage women about the possibilities. Women in Construction Week is observed from March 1st to March 7th (i.e., the first full week of the month) every year, highlighting women as an important, noticeable industry component.
Quite a number of conferences, seminars, and workshops are held across the country to celebrate women in construction. These conferences aim to provide management training, discuss ways to bridge the pay gap, stay up to date with industry news, and tackle diverse challenges. Like-minded people discuss various topics to help women succeed in different roles.
Construction is a highly competitive and dangerous sector. Numerous associations help provide women and young girls the needed resources and education to familiarize themselves with the industry.
Nationally recognized organizations such as the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) provide networking, mentorship, and marketing opportunities to women to excel in construction. These prove especially beneficial for new entrants to understand the challenges and possibilities ahead.
Professional Women in Construction is a nonprofit institution that seeks to connect, support, and advance women within the industry. It works to promote not just women but even the rest of the population. PWC is committed to offering professional, managerial, and entrepreneur opportunities in construction as well as related industries. You can receive scholarships, mentorship, webinars, and networking opportunities to excel in your career in a challenging profession. The organization also encourages diversity in the AEC (architecture, engineering, construction) divisions.
It is a diversity-challenged world out there in the construction sector. But, women are bursting bubbles that previously prevented them from succeeding in their career choices. Yet, so much work needs to be done to fully include women in construction.
Training, mentorship, and removing gender bias are just some ways to invite more women into the sector and bring in the needed diversity. Schools and educational programs must also highlight the value of construction jobs so young girls can see that as a viable career path. With time, more and more women are leveling the playing field to make it an inclusive space for the future workforce.
Looking to amplify your career in construction? NAWIC (National Association of Women in Construction) Triangle can help. We are committed to providing the needed education, training, and advocacy to help women flourish personally and professionally. There are more than a million women in the sector occupying different positions. You can do that too. Join NAWIC Triangle today, and our caring members will help you build a flourishing career in construction.