When you think of construction, you probably have an idea of the typical worker. Yellow hat, orange vest, and more than likely, male. Construction has always been known as a male-dominated field, and rarely do you hear about women working in construction.
However, women are breaking down barriers and slowly making their way into the industry every day. Here’s why it’s important that more women work in the construction field.
Where the Industry Stands
The construction industry is suffering a major labor shortage. In 2018, the construction industry had the largest ratio of unemployment to vacancy. There were almost two positions open for each person seeking employment—and the labor shortage hasn’t improved since.
The Associated Builders and Contractors estimates the industry needs to hire almost 650,000 workers in 2022 and an additional 590,000 in 2023 to meet demand.
While demand for construction has risen over the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of workers employed has been stagnant. In February 2022, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 7,613,000 construction workers. That’s 11,000 jobs less than the pre-pandemic numbers of 7,624,000 in February 2020.
Additionally, it’s estimated that 41% of the current construction workforce will retire by 2031, while demand for workers is expected to continue to increase. Another concern–workers between the ages of 25-54 have fallen 8%.
Women make up a small percentage of construction workers — around 9 -10% of the workforce. However, women are typically working in the office and in positions such as management and sales, and data reports show there is only one woman for every 100 men in the field.
Gender expectations, negative perceptions, and lack of female mentors often keep women from pursuing a career in construction. Despite these barriers, the number of women working in construction has increased over the years.
Why Should Women Work in Construction?
First and foremost, there is demand for more women working in construction. As the need for more workers rises, there are more opportunities for high-paying jobs in the industry.
Additionally, when an industry is dominated by one gender, there is a lack of diversity of thought. Recruiting and employing more women brings new ideas and innovation to the construction industry.
While there may be a lack of women in construction, it doesn’t mean they aren’t just as skilled as men. Many trades within the industry offer apprenticeships designed to give you real-world experience and education. Whether you want to frame a building, weld metal, or install plumbing, there are many options to explore.
“Working in construction can be rewarding and challenging. Each day is fast-paced, variable, and requires multitasking and problem-solving characteristics that women thrive at,” says Allison Bishop, Development and Project Manager at A.R. Brouwer Company. “Being the minority in the construction industry creates an environment for women to set themselves apart and advance their careers in multiple ways including management, finance, skilled trades, and real estate.”
Advice for Women in Construction
One important piece of advice for women in construction is to seek out role models and mentorships. A mentor can help you when you have questions, need guidance, and can help you accomplish your career goals.
Another important piece of information to remember is that as a woman, you will be a role model to many other women. Getting involved in groups and organizations that promote and support women in construction is a great way to find mentors/mentees, build your career, and find success.
“In my experience being a young woman working in the field is challenging. You’ll be faced with doubt because of your sex and perceived inexperience, but the important thing is not to let that stop you,” says Rachel Brouwer, Superintendent at A.R. Brouwer. “Find experienced people you admire who are willing to share their knowledge with you and learn from them. Don’t be afraid to ask tradesmen questions, they are the experts in their field. Respect is earned, especially in this industry, and the more credible you are the better. Admire the older women in the trade, they entered a work environment less accepting than the one we are in today, and they have endured and thrived, we will too!”
Resources for Women in Construction
It is not easy working in a field dominated by men, but luckily, there are many resources for women in construction. The National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) offers many construction-related educational courses for women and holds several events and conferences throughout the year that promote women in construction and help more women learn about the industry.
Other resources include:
- Construction Education Resources
- NAWIC Education Foundation Certifications
- NAWIC Scholarship Program
- Tradeswoman Inc
- Professional Women in Construction
Work with Us
A.R. Brouwer Company is a leading commercial construction company dedicated to improving diversity in the industry. We want you to know if you are interested in working in construction, there is a place for you here. Your skills are necessary for the development and future of the construction industry. We encourage you to join our team! Click here to learn more about our current employment opportunities.