BREAKING BARRIERS: WOMEN IN CONSTRUCTION
Construction has historically been notorious for being a "man's job," so it’s no surprise that even in 2020, only 10.3 percent of the workforce is representative of women. The statistics are even more dire for on-site jobs, where women in construction only account for around 1 in every 100 on-site professionals.
The good news is that the number of women in construction has been on the rise in the last few years. Here’s why female representation in construction and construction management is so important.
THE CHALLENGES WOMEN STILL FACE
In a historically male-dominated industry like construction, women are going to face various challenges that their male counterparts wouldn’t.
The risk of injury for women in construction is much higher. This is because most construction gear and protective equipment are designed to fit men and their needs.
It’s unclear why exactly there is a shortage of women in construction management. Some experts say that an unconscious gender bias in the industry can be blamed. The general belief that women are too ‘delicate’ for these roles keeps companies from sending them on the hard track to get the supervisory experience that is necessary. Others blame a lack of training programs.
IMPORTANCE OF WOMEN IN CONSTRUCTION
Despite all these barriers, strong women continue to pave their way through the industry. In 2017, over one-third of construction companies promoted a woman to a senior position. The NAWIC (National Association of Women in Construction) found that 13% of construction companies today are owned by women, which indicates a 64% growth from 2014.
The demand for construction workers is expected to grow by around 1.6 million over the next five years. The industry needs to attract, train, and retain more women in order to make sure they can successfully meet this growing demand.
But that’s not all. Women in construction bring in fresh ideas and perspectives into an otherwise stagnant industry. Female leaders will also play a big part in eliminating barriers for other women in the industry. Female leaders in the industry are forming peer mentorship programs to provide much-needed support to other women seeking a career in construction, while other female leaders are trying to break the mold and are vowing to recruit mainly women into this “man’s world”.
Finally, women improve bottom lines. A McKinsey and Company study found that firms with more female executives and diversity in upper management had a 21% higher chance of being profitable.
While great strides have been made to include women in the industry, the journey is far from over. Around 87% of women in construction are office workers, with only 2.8% being tradespeople. The industry needs to realize that women are capable of going out into the field and act to attract women to these jobs.
There’s a gap at the top, too. Though 44% of companies have women in executive roles, only 16% employ women in C-level positions (CEO, CFO, etc.).
As the construction industry continues to grow, women will have a major role to play. However, it will be a long time before women are equally represented in this industry.
(Article Written by Nicole Heyde)