Did you know that women made up only 11% of the construction industry in 2021, despite making up nearly half of the entire workforce in the U.S.?
Why? There’s a longstanding notion that construction work is a man’s work. A notion that women don’t belong on job sites; that they’re not strong enough or smart enough for jobs in construction. This couldn’t be further from the truth! Yet, this perception is so ingrained in our society many women don’t realize that construction trades are a path open to them, AND the path is open, and open wide.
The Construction Trades Need, and Want, Women
The construction industry has everything to gain by having more female workers. With an ever-increasing labor shortage in the market as boomers continue to retire, skilled workers are needed, whoever they are. Yet, it’s not just bodies that are needed. The construction trades want women.
Women bring immeasurable value to any work environment, and the trades recognize this. One of the key skills required in construction is problem solving, and science has discovered that women are uniquely wired to better combine analytical and intuitive thinking than men. What’s more, recent studies have shown that women improve company culture; having a higher percentage of women in the workplace predicted higher job satisfaction, more organizational dedication, more meaningful work, and less burnout among ALL workers. There’s no denying that women bring different skill sets and perspectives that are needed across all industries, and the construction trades are no exception.
The Trades Offer Great Opportunities for Women
The skilled construction trades offer numerous benefits and opportunities for men AND women alike: great pay, career stability, job satisfaction, great work-life balance, on-the-job training, hands-on work, and so much more. According to a recent survey of over 1,000 women in construction, 80% of women in construction say they love their job.
What’s even better for women: the gender pay gap is almost non-existent! On average, women in the U.S. earn only 81.1% of what men make, but in the construction industry, women, on average, earn 99% of what men make, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Why? Because in union construction in particular, collective bargaining agreements dictate what people get paid by their rank and title (e.g., apprentice, journeyman), NOT gender. Journeyworkers, men and women, working at the same job site, and doing the same work, will absolutely get paid the same.
How the Construction Trades Are Working to Break the Bias and Welcome Women
As part of their 2022 campaign, #BreaktheBias, International Women’s Day stated that: “Whether deliberate or unconscious, bias makes it difficult for women to move ahead. Knowing that bias exists isn’t enough, action is needed to level the playing field.”
The construction trades know that the industry has a long history of deeply rooted biases, and are working tirelessly to break the biases and make the construction industry a safe and welcoming place for women by:
- Creating a more inclusive work culture where women and men are equally valued and treated
- Setting up diversity councils with representation from a mix of genders, cultural backgrounds, and positions
- Working to remove subconscious bias in recruitment, training, and supervision
- Removing gender-biased words in position descriptions
- Having tradeswomen involved in recruitment
- Measuring and reporting on diversity job satisfaction and turnover
- Adopting family-friendly work policies and benefits (e.g., maternity and paternity benefits, fertility benefits)
- Setting up and supporting professional development programs for women
Despite old, antiquated perceptions, the construction trades are an exceptional place for women to work and thrive. Women are strong, women are smart, and women are needed and wanted in the trades, now more than ever.
Women, are you ready to #BreaktheBias and get started with a rich and rewarding career in the construction trades? Learn how to get started today.