Put on Those Hard Hats, Ladies!
One of the major tasks in nearly every industry today is realizing gender equality. After all, it’s been proven that gender diversity offers huge advantages in the workplace.
True, a number of industries have made noteworthy progress in gender diversity; however, many continue to straggle behind. And the construction industry fits into this latter group.
The typical stereotype for a construction site worker is an ogling, baggy trousered macho-man. Men are bigger and stronger than women and are naturally drawn to physical work, right? If someone says, “construction workers,” you are commonly assumed to picture a crew of men in hard hats going over an architect’s blueprints or pouring concrete for a sidewalk.
This stereotype actually takes place in the real world. Think about it. When was the last time you caught sight of a woman on a construction site? Your response is most likely to be “occasionally” or “rarely.”
Fortunately, however, more and more construction companies are working to eliminate these stereotypes and encourage women to think about the industry.
If you take a closer look, the construction industry actually has a heck of a lot more to offer than steel-toe boots and hard hats, and it requires that women help the industry move forward in this time of swift change.
In this blog, we’re going to discuss reasons why women just joining the workforce or looking to make a career change should consider a job in construction.
Before proceeding, here’s some background . . .
Of all the people employed in construction, women make up barely 10 percent of this unique workforce. Even smaller is the amount of female construction workers on the actual jobsite – there is one woman for every 100 employees in the field. Bearing in mind that women comprise 47 percent of all employed individuals nationwide, this indicates the construction industry is profiting from a bit over one percent of the entire female workforce.
There are several factors that account for this enormous gender gap, from unintentional gender bias to the absence of sufficient training to a general misperception of women working in construction which, as we’ve noted, is traditionally a male-dominated career.
Regardless of these barriers, women continue to shape their pathway in the industry. According to Randstad, an IT service management firm, nearly one-third of companies promoted a woman to a senior position in 2017.
As construction is predicted to generate almost 2 million new jobs over the next five years, companies are looking to recruit more women to bring their skillsets into the field.
In this blog, we’re going to focus on reasons why women just joining the workforce or looking to make a career change should consider a job in construction.
There is a ton of opportunities
This construction industry is in need of smart, resourceful and meticulous professionals from assorted backgrounds. Career paths can take numerous directions, from working in the field to project management to assessment, business administration and so much more.
Moreover, the lack of female managers in the industry delivers opportunities for women to enhance overall performance, add fresh viewpoints and further their careers.
Women in leadership positions hold enormous paybacks for all industries, particularly in an extremely collaborative setting like construction. Recent studies have indicated that group collaboration is significantly upgraded in gender-diverse teams. Construction projects demand a high level of collaboration and, as a result, inserting women in managerial positions can only increase workplace productivity.
Female leaders also perform a vital function in removing the challenges other women confront in construction by taking part in female recruiting, supporting retainment and advancement of women in the workplace and advocating for improved benefits.
High salary potential
The pay gap between what men and women earn is a genuine barrier that keeps women from moving forward in any career. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics conveys that, on average, women make 80 cents for every dollar a man makes nationwide.
Fortunately for those employed in the construction industry, women make nearly 96 cents to a man’s dollar, a significant improvement over the standard in most industries. Moreover, the industry is looking to narrow the discrimination gap between women and men as they reduce the pay gap. The construction industry puts a high value on performance and productivity. With an emphasis on performance skills, a person’s gender seldom decides how much someone gets paid.
Plus, salaries for construction jobs are on the rise, making the industry a desirable place to start a career. According to a survey conducted by the National Center for Construction Education and Research, project managers and supervisors have the highest average annual salaries in the industry at $92,523 and $88,355.
The next highest salaries are those of combo welders ($71,067), instrumentation technicians ($70,080), pipe welders ($69,222) and industrial electricians ($67,269). Nineteen of the 32 categories of workers in the survey earned an average salary that is higher than $60,000.
Be part of something important
Ignore sales targets or progress reports. In the construction marketplace, the fruits of your labor surround you. You become part of a team that grabs a parcel of flat land and constructs a building which will endure a heck of a lot longer than you. You’ll experience the satisfaction of declaring, “I helped make that happen.”
You’ll also be involved with constructing homes and businesses where people live and prosper. Or perchance your team will take a timeworn, wrecked space and return it to something useful and charming. Talk about gratifying. You’re crafting an infrastructure for generations yet to come.
Yes, the job can be stressful, and the work can be demanding, but nothing beats the feeling of being able to build something from the ground up.
Darylene Dennon, the first tradeswoman to chair the NAHB’s Professional Women in Building Council, emphasized the advantages of being a woman in the trades, “I was raised to think that if you do a good job, people will appreciate it. And always learn a trade. You can do a trade anywhere. When I was in the field, I didn’t think of myself as unequal.”
Working in construction permits women to experience this sense of accomplishment and acquire a passion for building – a passion that ought not be restricted to just men.
Women are natural problem solvers
Do you enjoy a challenge? Then perhaps a career in construction might be exactly what you’re looking for. Whether you’re already in the field or looking for a change in professions, careers in construction are quite active and include participating in conversations to resolve predicaments.
It’s certainly no secret that men and women think in different ways. And it’s not just hearsay – scientific research indicates that male and female brains are inclined to be wired for diverse optimizations.
Here’s an example. One of the vital skills demanded in construction is problem solving. Whether working in the field, producing and dissecting blueprints or crunching numbers, construction workers have a shared objective: Make things happen.
And in this task, entertaining a range of ideas is both beneficial and appropriate. Women can present fresh approaches or new methods that have not yet been investigated. As Debbie Dickinson, CEO of Crane Industries, says, “Diversity drives innovation.”
An abundance of variety
What’s the saying . . .variety is the spice of life. Ditch the ho-hum 9-5 desk job. Every project, every jobsite, every function you take on will be totally different. As you expand your professional skill set, you’ll be subjected to new group dynamics, encounter new colleagues for life and be taught by knowledgeable mentors.
You’ll be given the opportunity to travel, to grow, to change professional direction as you see fit.
Dreading another cold winter? No worries, there’s a project in Florida waiting for your CV. Always wanted to see Niagara Falls? Apply to Canadian-based Rutherford Contracting. Your options are endless, and no two days you’re working will be the same.
The use of technology
So, you have a technical background? As part of the construction industry, you can employ some of the most forward-thinking technologies in the world! If you think construction is all blueprints, hammers and nails and pouring concrete, think again. The manual construction tools and processes of yesterday are quite unlike the decidedly technical functions and devices that are observed on the job today.
Growing network of experts
There is a community of women on the rise in construction who are eager to mentor and share perceptions with women new to the field.
This includes a robust network of women in construction through the Professional Women in Building and the National Association of Women in Construction. The National Center for Women’s Equity in Apprenticeship and Employment, a conglomerate of groups embodying tradeswomen’s organizations throughout the country, also provides opportunities for women in construction.
Deciding on a career in construction also means entering the ranks of women who are leading the industry movement – women like Kim Ray, the first female CEO to lead one of ENR’s top contracting firms, HITT Contracting, and Jennifer Vides, a superintendent at Turner Construction who attained her position at just 26 years of age.
Increasing the bottom line
McKinsey & Company observed that firms that had employed diverse executive teams, including women, were 21 percent more apt to be more profitable than the average.
As the construction industry wrestles with questions concerning productivity and labor, there is an ever-growing place for women in the field. And it’s not just a concern about equal representation – female leaders are creating a giant impact on the industry as well, and companies are taking note.
Changing perceptions and culture
While construction is open to women more than ever before, the fact remains that barely a tenth of the industry comprises women.
Even if a woman possesses the appropriate skillset and is intent in going for a career in construction, the expectation of being the only woman on the jobsite can be intimidating. It will mean that trailblazing women must take that leap and not only be talented crafts persons, but also turn out to be mentors, leaders and promoters for future females in the industry.
As the industry recruits another generation of workers, these pioneers will be a significant resource for reassurance, encouragement and know-how.
“I want to make sure that when young girls who are interested in construction knock on the door, myself or any other industry professional is there to answer it and any of their questions, “ says Dr. Mittie Cannon, founder of Power Up, an enterprise working to demonstrate the benefits of careers in construction for women. “That is where the real progress begins,” she concludes.
As noted above, there are various organizations and support systems in place for craftswomen. As these groups grow in size and number, so does the notion of a woman in a hard hat.
For the industry to realistically conquer the idea that construction is for men only, the women of construction need to be at the pole position of the movement.
The construction industry has a long way to go in combating gender bias and supporting women in the workforce. But given the current demand for workers, there’s no better time to pick up a sledgehammer (figurative or literal) and smash the gender stereotypes plaguing the construction industry. If you are looking to employ more women in your workplace, give us a call. We’re in the position to seek out workers best suited to your particular needs.