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Women in Construction: The State of the Industry in 2023

Women in Construction: The State of the Industry in 2023

When you think of an industry dominated by men, construction might be one of the first that comes to mind.

Of all the people working in construction, women hold only 10.9% of the construction jobs in the United States. As of 2020, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that women make up about one in 10 workers in the construction workforce.

As women make up 47% of all employed individuals, the construction industry only benefits from about 1.25% of women in its workforce. Several factors explain this enormous gender gap, including unconscious gender bias, a lack of adequate training and negative perceptions of women working in construction. Despite these barriers, women continue to build their path in the industry. The rate of women in construction in the United States has grown by 2% since 2011, when women made up only 8.9% of the construction 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 looking to recruit more women than ever before to bring their skill sets into the field.

What Can Women Do in Construction?

Women can take on any construction job in the industry. However, they are currently severely underrepresented in trade and executive positions. As of 2020, women in construction mostly held office and sales positions.

Here’s a further breakdown of where women work within the construction industry:

  • Office roles: 87%
  • Tradespeople: 2.5%
  • Staff executive positions: 14%
  • Line of executive positions: 7%

Despite the above statistics, many organizations are making efforts to promote more women into leadership positions, and women working in the industry are inspiring younger generations to follow in their footsteps.

Women Paving the Way

Women-CEOs-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 roles in the last five years, suggesting that companies have more recently promoted women to leadership roles.

Kim Roy

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

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 $100 million in funding. It launched CraneView in 2019, an AI-powered device that improves operator safety and production efficiency for cranes.

Kylie Rampa

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.

Learning 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.

Women’s Organizations

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.

Construction-opportunities-for-women

Construction Courses and Educational Materials

In certain areas of the country, large construction companies 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. Check out the NAWIC website for a list of great educational resources for those who aspire to work in construction and those already in the field.

Construction Forums and Conferences

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 Drives Performance

Although more diverse representation in the construction industry isn’t a reality today, this report by McKinsey & Co. reveals that the most gender-diverse companies are 25% more likely to achieve above-average profitability than companies with less diversity. After a year of industry-wide growth in 2021, hiring more women is an optimal way to capitalize on that expansion.

Gender-diverse-construction-profitability

That report found that construction companies with more women in executive line roles experienced above-average financial performance compared to companies that didn’t. When women filled 30% or more of executive-level positions, those companies had a 48% likelihood of outperforming their least diverse competitors.

Although more diversity brings about more success, Randstad found that women executives are more likely to occupy staff roles (14%) than line roles (7%). This starkly contrasts men in executive roles, with 33% operating as staff executives and 46% as line executives.

How Can Construction Companies Recruit More Women?

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.

Although there are obstacles for women entering construction, diversity is a proven asset in driving profitability and a key component in solving the construction industry’s labor shortage. With more and more groundbreaking women chipping away at gender norms and leveling the playing field, the industry is taking more significant steps to become a more diverse and inclusive space for future 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.

Reserve construction equipment online today!

Women-in-construction-infographic

Sources:

McKinsey & Co. | 2 | Catalyst | JLL | Randstad | JBKnowledge | GWIC | NAWIC | WCOEUSA | Constructing Equality | Tradeswomen | BLS | 2 | 3 4

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