9 Ways to Support Extraordinary Women in Construction

9 Ways to Support Extraordinary Women in Construction

This photo was captured before the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, women make up 10.3% of the construction industry workforce. For comparison, women constitute 47% of the general workforce. Thanks to advances in technology and software, the construction industry has grown significantly in recent years. However, despite these advances, a lack of female representation may be holding the industry back. 

Women in construction survey results

Challenges Women Face Pursuing Careers in Construction

In 2021, The Cat® Rental Store asked over 1,000 women their thoughts about pursuing a career in construction. Almost 90% of the participants responded that they have never considered a career in construction and do not think the industry would be the best fit. Comparatively, less than 2% of participants were seriously interested in a construction career.  

While construction is often considered a difficult industry to work in, the challenges women face in this sector go beyond the actual job. Negative stereotypes, dated perceptions, limited recruitment and a lack of encouragement from a young age can negatively affect women’s interest in pursuing a career in construction. 

Untargeted and insufficient advertising toward women is a leading cause of limited female representation in the construction industry. Most advertisements for construction positions still target men through their language or use of videos and photographs. By advertising in this way, the construction industry paints its work environments as intimidating and male-dominated, which may cause women to lose interest or believe that a career in construction is not even an option. Transparent advertising that celebrates successful female construction workers will change traditional views while creating a more diverse industry.

Despite these challenges, there are many opportunities available for women to pursue a career in the construction industry.  Whether you’re interested in developing construction software or architecture, there are plenty of construction careers that would benefit from having more women involved. 

Tips for Creating a Supportive Culture for Women

By promoting a supportive culture for the women in your company, you can make space for more female employees and tap into this demographic's unused potential. Consider one or more of these strategies to support professional women in your construction business.

  1. Acknowledge inequality in the construction industry: The first step to resolving inequality is understanding it. As you do business, keep in mind that women can experience unequal treatment and may need support in the workplace.
  2. Discover the importance of diversity in construction hiring: In addition to helping people have equal opportunities in construction, hiring diversity improves a company's performance. McKinsey & Company found that businesses with more diverse teams had better performance in multiple areas than less diverse companies.
  3. Enforce zero-tolerance harassment policies: A workplace that discourages gender-based harassment can make everyone feel safer on the job. Try establishing and communicating a clear harassment policy if you don't already have one.
  4. Provide female role models and representatives: Women in leadership and human resources roles can serve as confidants and role models to the rest of the women in your company. They will also provide a broader range of viewpoints to your business operations.
  5. Keep communication open among all team members: When you make it safe for your employees to talk about tough topics, they can feel more comfortable coming to you about diversity issues. Your female employees might bring up issues that you would have never noticed yourself.
  6. Take measures to ensure equal pay: While construction has a small pay gap compared to other industries, this gap might increase for women of color. Find ways to look at your team's wages objectively to see if any biases exist.
  7. Support educational initiatives in your community: The construction industry has plenty of initiatives to encourage young women and girls to consider a career in this field. See if your community has a program like Mentoring a Girl in Construction (MAGIC).
  8. Establish family-friendly policies for both parents: Family-friendly workplace policies can help you reduce inequality while benefiting all of your team members. Parental leave and flexible hours make it easier to balance work and family responsibilities.
  9. Understand gender equality as a constant work in progress: As you work toward a more inclusive workplace, remember that gender equality is a work in progress for everyone. It takes plenty of self-awareness, flexibility and understanding to create a company that supports all employees. Think of it like you think about your construction capabilities — there are always ways to work harder and do better.


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