Women represent half the world’s population. However, when it comes to construction, there are fewer than 9% of women working in the industry—an even smaller number of these women are working directly on the job site.
Although there is an enormous gender divide, women are making great strides in this traditionally male-dominated profession. Last year, almost a third of constructions promoted their female employees to senior positions.
This movement to recruit and retain women comes at an opportune time, as the need for construction workers will grow to over 1.6 million people by 2023.
Challenges of Being a Women in Construction
As with other male-dominated industries, women face obstacles such as gender bias, sexual harassment, inadequate maternity benefits, and social perceptions. Notable issues in construction include:
1. Pay Gap
Women in construction earn on average 95.7 per cent of what men make. Although the wage gap is small than in other industries, women of color are impacted more—black women, in particular, earn just 81 cents for every dollar paid to white men.
2. Injury Risk
Women are at a higher risk of workplace injury on the field due to poorly fitted personal protection equipment, which is usually designed for men.
3. Lack of Mentorship
Male-dominated professions tend not to have as many female role models, which make it more difficult for women to get into industries or to visualize themselves in a leadership role.
Building It Better
Despite these challenges, more and more women are breaking into construction. By 2020, women are projected to represent 25% of the workforce.
Although only 13% of construction firms are currently owned by women, this number has experienced a recent growth of 15%—the highest gain of female ownership in any industry.
Recent evidence demonstrates that gender diversity is not only needed for women but also good for the bottom line. A study by McKinsey & Company discovered that companies that had diverse executive teams were 21 per cent more likely to be more profitable than the average.
It’s not just about the numbers. There are many benefits to why women should consider a career in construction, including:
- Higher Earning Potential
Women earn on average 20 to 30% more than traditionally female-dominated careers.
- Leadership Opportunities
The shortage of women in construction provides opportunities for them to provide new perspectives, improve team performance, and ultimately advance their careers.
The Rise of Female Construction Leaders
In 2010, only 6.9% of executive officers at construction companies were women. However, according to Randstad, almost one out of three construction companies promoted their female employees to senior leadership roles last year.
The boon in female leaders solves a major obstacle women face: the lack of role models. These women play an important role in not only inspiring other women to advance in their career but also serving as mentors and a valuable resource. This becomes a top-down strategy that promotes better recruitment and retainment of women in this industry.
So what does it take to be a female leader in construction? To find out, BigRentz analyzed ENR’s Top 100 Contractors and Fortune 500 construction firms to see how many companies had women in leadership positions.
We looked at the backgrounds of CEOs, C-level executives, and construction managers to highlight this upward trend of women in construction and what makes them successful in their roles.