It’s a trend that has found its time: Getting more women working in construction is a tremendous area of opportunity for general contractors and larger construction firms. With women comprising just 9 percent of the construction workforce in the U.S., the benefits of recruiting and investing in female workers are apparent to employers. And with an ample supply of jobs available – often, more jobs than can be filled – it’s a great time for women to explore jobs in the construction industry.
Right now there’s a serious shortage of workers in the skilled trades. Women are well-represented in clerical, administrative and professional roles in the economy, but they’re hugely under-represented in manual labor roles. So construction employers realize that attracting more women into the skilled trades, instead of shoehorning them into professional roles, can quickly and efficiently address this shortage. Developers and general contractors see the value of diversification, and they’re doing more to connect women in the trades to construction jobs. Bottom line: If you’re a woman who wants to do the work, the construction industry needs you.
Case studies show that a construction team’s performance is enhanced when women are involved. Women bring new or different perspectives to approaching challenges in the workplace. The Harvard Business Review reports that the overall intelligence of teams is greater when females are part of the team. It’s clear that women on construction sites bring a lot to the table – not just by filling spots in a labor shortage, but in improving problem-solving and efficiency.
But there’s no way to avoid this: The reality is that there are barriers to entry for women in construction. The culture can be discouraging for women apprenticing in the skilled trades, and outdated attitudes can also come into play on a construction site. Women on construction teams can face discrimination and criticism as they integrate into the male-centric culture found in too many construction firms. For a woman looking to enter construction, the best advice is to be patient and persistent, don’t lose sight of your end goal, and work to be a leader. Take it seriously, because it’s a great career. Be the best student and worker you can be from Day One, and you’ll become part of the process of breaking down gender bias.
The Laborers Apprenticeship Program is on the front edge of changing the role of women in construction. We’re part of a grass-roots initiative to get more women involved in skilled trades such as laborers. One way we’re working to get more women in construction is by creating incentives for them to complete apprenticeships in construction trades.
One important thing to note is that the construction industry does an excellent job of minimizing the pay gap between men and women in similar roles. Both women and men can enjoy excellent economic benefits when they invest time in learning a construction trade.
We know that women have a lot to offer to the construction industry – that’s why we’re working hard to recruit and train them. And as more women work in the field, contractors and construction firms will enjoy the material and cultural benefits of a more equitable and inclusive workplace.
If you or a woman you know would like to be a part of this change while learning valuable, job-ready skills, call the Laborers Apprenticeship Program today.