By the end of 2016, the construction industry had made strides in hiring women, who made up about 9.1% of construction workers. But it’s still slow going: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women working in construction represented just 1.3% of the entire U.S. workforce in 2015, while they make up 26% of managers in the computers and IT system industry, 60% of pharmacists and 11% of civil engineers.
But forgoing a career in construction may mean women miss a prime opportunity for a career with a low cost of entry and a bright future: While women in the U.S. earn on average 81.1% men’s earnings, in the construction industry, they earn on average 95.7%. And according to the National Association of Home Builders, the industry needs approximately 275,000 workers—a number expected to rise.
How women can navigate and thrive in their new field
Women need to be aware that the industry still hasn’t totally shaken the “blue collar male” stigma or the bias that bars women who do apply. Also, many women simply aren’t aware of the opportunities that range from finance and accounting to on-site work. Women seeking a career in this industry may want to consider the following:
- Corporate professionalism. This will be clearly indicated via the value the company places on its employees. Some companies make a concerted effort to recruit women and ensure their company has a culture that supports women’s careers—a sure way to develop a more robust, diverse pool of talent.
- Your passion. Women who succeed in the industry are often excited by the unique challenges in construction.
- Growth potential. Construction firms that are building their businesses will always need women employees who can help them build and sustain their businesses and can grow their skillsets and accountability in the process.
- Self-employment. Some women start their own companies, while recognizing how important it is to not only manage and schedule projects, but also gain respect from—and develop close working relationships with—vendors, subcontractors and suppliers.
- Flexible working hours. Both men and women may need to spend time at home with young children or ailing parents. Technology enables remote project monitoring, alleviating the need to be on the job every single day.
- Programs that support women. The United Way of Greater Houston’s THRIVE program administers a construction workforce initiative/collaborative, with a sub-program--Women in Construction that introduces women to craft trades. After identifying a construction company seeking to hire new workers and recruiting and screening candidates, a cohort, or class, of women is placed through a 12-week training program that includes both soft skills and craft skills necessary to be successful in life and in a construction career.
As you can see, there are opportunities galore for women in construction. Whatever your path into the field, Command Alkon honors women in construction.