Construction is a predominantly male-dominated industry, with women making up a small percentage of the workforce.
A 2023 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reveals that 10.8% of construction workers in the United States are women.
Women in construction only make up 1.25% of the total workforce, despite constituting 47% of all employed individuals. This discrepancy is influenced by various factors, including unconscious gender bias, inadequate training opportunities, and negative stereotypes surrounding women in construction.
Regardless of these roadblocks, women continue to pave their way in an industry dominated by men. The rate of women in construction in the United States has grown by 2% since 2010, when women made up only 8.9% of the labor force.
The BLS also estimates that the construction industry will grow by 4% between 2021 and 2031. That’s about 168,500 new jobs each year over the decade. With this fast and steady growth, companies are actively recruiting women to leverage their skills within the industry.
Table of Contents
- Why Are There So Few Women in Construction?
- Powerful Women in Construction
- Resources for Women in Construction
- Diversity Fuels High-Performance
- Recruiting Women Construction Workers
Why Are There So Few Women in Construction?
While women can excel in any construction job, their presence in trade and executive roles within the industry is notably lacking. This is due to a combination of factors, including high levels of harassment and outdated gender stereotypes. As of 2022, women in construction mostly held office and sales positions. Here’s a further breakdown of where women work within the construction industry:
- Sales and office roles: 36.1%
- Management roles: 36.1%
- Construction and maintenance roles: 24.6%
- Transportation roles: 2%
- Service roles: 1.2%
Despite the barriers standing in their way, forward-thinking organizations and hardworking women in construction are paving the way for progress. This includes inspiring the next generation with powerful women role models and promoting more women into leadership roles.
Powerful Women in Construction
Although women are still underrepresented, they are making significant progress as leaders in the industry. A substantial portion of women executives and construction managers entered those positions in the last five years, suggesting that companies have more recently promoted women to leadership roles. Here are a few women in construction who are paving the way for future generations.
Kim Roy took on the role of CEO for HITT Contracting in 2017 after working for the company for 18 years. As a company leader, Roy was named to Building Design + Construction Magazine’s Top 40 Under 40 class of 2009 and won the Commercial Observer’s 2019 Top Women in Real Estate — Innovation Award. In an interview with NAIOP, Kim said that she hopes her position as a leader will help attract more women to a traditionally male-dominated industry.
Meirav Oren has made waves in the construction industry over the past few years after co-founding the construction tech startup Versatile in 2016. During Oren’s time as CEO of Versatile, the company secured over $80 million in funding. It launched CraneView in 2019, an AI-powered device that improves operator safety and production efficiency for cranes.
Kylie Rampa is the CEO of QIC, overseeing strategy and operations for the development investment company. Before her most recent role, Rampa was the Group Head of Investment at Lendlease Australia, a company that engages in construction, development and infrastructure projects across the globe. She has extensive experience in real estate and development.
Resources for Women in Construction
To enter a growing yet competitive field like construction, women must have access to resources that address their specific needs in the industry. Fortunately, companies and associations are increasing their efforts to promote women within their organizations and educate young women about the benefits of working in the industry.
Organizations Supporting Women in the Trades
Nationally recognized groups like the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) and Women Construction Owners & Executives USA provide mentorship, marketing and networking opportunities to help women who are new to the construction industry. For example, Jenny Brongo, president and owner of Brongo Contracting and Supply in Rochester, NY, used NAWIC resources to learn how to successfully run her business after her father passed.
Courses and Training for Women in Construction
Large construction companies in certain areas of the country collaborate with the local community to offer courses and boot camp programs for young girls and women interested in the industry. Many cities also offer apprenticeship programs that strive to recruit women, prepare them for exams and train them with job-specific skills. The NAWIC website offers a comprehensive list of educational resources for those who aspire to work in construction and those already in the field.
Events and Forums Uplifting Women Construction Workers
Many conferences celebrate and discuss the topic of women in construction. NAWIC’s Annual Conference includes professional seminars and workshops for women, while the Groundbreaking Women in Construction conference provides management training and teaches women how to bridge pay gaps in their workplace. In addition to conferences, women can stay up to date in the industry with blogs like Constructing Equality and Tradeswomen, which aim to tackle diversity issues, provide original research, highlight scholarship opportunities and share personal stories and anecdotes.
Diversity Fuels High-Performance
Although diverse representation in the construction industry is still a work in progress, a 2023 McKinsey & Co. report revealed a substantial financial advantage for companies where women make up more than 30% of the workforce. After a year of industry-wide growth in 2022, hiring more women is an optimal way to capitalize on that expansion.
More diversity brings about more success. Regardless of this, Randstad found that 48% of women report a lack of female role models in their industry, and 89% of women in construction have experienced perceived gender discrimination. This shows a severe lack of support for women in construction jobs and demonstrates the need for additional industry reform.
Recruiting Women Construction Workers
There is still work to be done to include women in construction. To increase recruitment and improve retention, companies must acknowledge and remove gender bias from their work culture, develop training programs and local mentorship groups specific to women’s needs, include more women in the hiring process and encourage women to become role models for other women. Additionally, schools and educational programs must highlight the value of construction and STEM jobs for women so young girls can see the industry as a viable career path.
The current labor shortage in the industry presents an opportunity to hire even more women in construction jobs. As advancements in construction technology have grown, many companies are hesitant to try them out for various reasons, including a lack of staff. Hiring and training women in the IT departments of construction companies can help with the staff shortage and improve companies’ diversity.
While challenges persist for women in construction, diversity stands as a proven financial asset and plays a vital role in addressing the industry’s labor shortage. As pioneering women continue to challenge gender norms, the construction sector is actively pursuing greater diversity and inclusivity for the benefit of all generations. If you’re interested in learning more about women in construction, the infographic below provides a breakdown of key statistics and highlights women leaders transforming the industry. Women in construction play an essential role in creating an equal and diverse workforce for all.
Whether you’re a woman breaking into the business or paving the path for others, you deserve the best equipment for every project. With BigRentz, you can depend on us to get you the right equipment for your job. Whether you need a rental for a day or the month, we’re here to help.