Women have never been scared to break their way into male dominated spaces, and construction is no exception. While the construction industry shrunk in recent memory, it is coming back and coming with it are the women workers. Whether office work, hard labor, or project management, women are increasingly joining the industry in all positions.
When looking over the stats about women in construction, we can see that in 2021, 11% of the workforce in the construction industry were women, according to data from The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). That rose to as high as 14% in 2022, according to the Washington Post, also showing that a large percentage of these working women is hispanic.
This data is supported by the BLS when we look at Table 12 in their data from 2020; Employed women, by occupation, race, and Hispanic or Latino ethnicity, 2020 annual averages (percent distribution).
Working in construction isn’t all about building, digging, trudging, and using porta potties. Many women working in construction are office workers in administrative positions. Approximately, 61.3% of women working in construction are in office or sales careers, according to the National Association of Women in Construction. According to that same data, 44% of them are working in construction management or “professional” positions while it seems only about 1% of female construction workers are actually in the “down and dirty” parts of the industry.
The construction industry is, unsurprisingly, one of the most male-dominated fields in the world. Women in this industry face a lot of challenges, including discrimination, harassment, and unequal pay.
According to data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, women in construction only earn 81.1% of what their male counterparts earn. This pay gap is even more significant for women of color, with Black women earning just 75.7% and Hispanic women earning only 61.1% of what white men make in construction.
One of the biggest reasons for this large pay gap is the lack of women in leadership positions. Additionally, women in construction face higher barriers to entry than men, such as stereotypes and physical demands of this type of job.
To learn more about the gender pay gap for women in the construction industry, you can read more from the National Women's Law Center or from the National Association of Women in Construction.
With few opportunities for women to break into the construction industry, they face a range of challenges. They also face a lack of support and mentorship from other women in the field, which compounds the problems.
One huge challenge for some women in construction is the physical demands of the job. Many women simply may not have the same upper body strength as men, which can make it more difficult to complete certain projects. Some women don’t have good stamina, which can prevent them from working in tougher conditions.
Unfortunately, women may also not be taken seriously on construction sites. A lack of respect from peers and coworkers can have major impacts on opportunities to move up in the company.
All of that said, it seems like more women are joining the industry and changing the landscape – both literally and figuratively.
Women can still work in project management, estimating, or construction design if the rough and tumble positions don’t appeal to them. These kinds of roles can be a great fit for women who enjoy working in a fast-paced and competitive environment without so much of the hard labor.
Many construction companies are actively seeking to diversify their workforces and may even offer mentorship and training programs to help women succeed in these and other construction related roles.
Ultimately, there are many different careers available for women in the construction industry, and the key is finding the right fit. Women who are interested in exploring careers in construction should do their research and be on the lookout for mentorship and training opportunities.
National Association Of Women In Construction
Professional Women in Construction
National Association of Black Women in Construction
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