Survey Sheds Light on Women in Construction

Women constitute 14% of the overall construction workforce and 4% of the craft's professional positions.

Source : freepik

March 17, 2023

Author : Patty Allen

How many women have you seen on roadside construction sites?  Construction and related fields are still considered a male bastion.

There is a dire shortage of construction workers; for every four retirees, only one new person enters. Thanks to the IIJA funding, construction projects are rampant across the country, thus, increasing the need for more workers. It has been estimated that by 20235, there will be a need for almost 1.9 million crafts professionals. 

Unfortunately, construction companies are not successfully attracting women with their current recruiting and retention efforts. Women constitute 14% of the overall construction workforce and 4% of the craft's professional positions.

Boyd Worsham, CEO of NCCER explained, “As we continue to struggle in building a workforce to fulfill these needs, we must recognize that we are not effectively appealing to the largest percentage of the population — women — in our recruiting and retention efforts.”

The National Center for Construction Education & Research (NCCER) interviewed 176 tradeswomen and evaluated 770 survey responses from women in the construction and craft sector. The findings were gathered into a white paper, In Her Own Words: Enhancing Project Results, to help businesses recruit, hire, and retain women in craft roles.

 The report stated: 

“Women are role model workers. They want to work safely. They follow process and procedure. Generally, I find that [women adhere] better to compliance and HSE process and procedures.” 

The Director of research for NCCER, Dr. Tim Taylor said, "Regarding women simply as a way to make up for the quantity gap in the construction workforce, ignore the unique qualities they bring to the job site." This mentality is often the biggest mistake made by construction bosses.

The industry needs to recognize that being unable to effectively appeal to women, the largest percentage of the population, will negatively impact the project outcome.

Key challenges faced by women construction workers included:

  • Biases in the hiring process.
  • Lack of flexibility for care work.
  • Lack of training opportunities.
  • Unequal treatment.
  • Few women in site leadership positions.
  • Poor job site experience.

Despite knowing the value of diversity, equity, and inclusion in business, women today struggle for equality in the construction workplace.

The focus groups in the survey provided various recommendations on better recruiting and retaining women for craft professional positions. 

Some of the ways the construction industry can be made inclusive are:

  1. Reducing discrimination and sexual harassment
  2. Provide better flexibility in terms of maternity leave, child care, and care work
  3. Provide more safety gear and equipment fitted for women
  4. More women should be present in leadership positions as site managers and even in administrative positions
  5. Provide equal access to training and equal pay to women workers

The NCCER research found that bringing more women into the trades can not only help close the gender gap in the skilled construction workforce but also add unique skills to the job site that enhance the working environment. The most significant advantages of hiring women include a greater emphasis on teamwork, attention to detail, cleanliness and organization of the job location, improved safety performance, and better compliance and HSE process and procedures.

Category : Minority Women Business Enterprises Women Business Enterprises

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