One of the things that Women’s History Month encourages us to do is to look at the representation and development of women across industries. Construction in particular is one industry where women have historically been under-represented.
Of course, when we think of male-dominated industries, construction is more than likely one of the first to pop into your mind. Statistically, women comprise around 10 percent of the entire construction workforce. These numbers are astonishingly low considering that women make up 47 percent of all working employees across all industries.
Change may be coming as The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show the percentage of women classified as construction managers had increased from 5.9% in 2003 to 7.7% in 2018. It’s also increasingly common in this male-dominated industry to find women working in all divisions – obviously, there is a long way to go.
In construction, unsurprisingly, women are more likely to encounter gender-related challenges such as gender bias, absence of adequate resources and benefits, sexual harassment issues, and actual alienation or inequality in the workplace. Another issue is even how the construction environment, equipment, and uniforms have traditionally been designed around a man’s needs. With more women expected to join construction, companies have created items designed to increase women’s comfort, protection, and effectiveness on the worksite. Thankfully, the standards and requirements for workplace behavior in construction are starting to be enforced and improved.
Construction is always facing new challenges, and with the employment crisis through Covid-19, hiring-bias for skilled construction workers is becoming less sexist. There are cities that are leading the way. The highest percentage of female workers in 2019 was in Minneapolis, at 19.1%. The runner-up was Seattle, with a 17.6% female employment rate. The industry is transforming, and recruiters have high hopes for greater diversity and female employment in the future. Construction has major room for growth, and women will continue to pave their way into the future of the trade.