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When you picture a construction worker, what do you imagine? You may picture someone wearing a hard hat and a brightly colored vest operating a backhoe or some other piece of heavy machinery. There’s also a good chance that the person you’re picturing right now is a man.
While construction has been a male-dominated industry in the past, that trend is changing. There are more than a million women in construction today, and that number is on the rise. Read on to learn more about women in construction and the fantastic opportunities this career field could offer.
How Many Women Work in Construction?
Before we dive into all the things a woman can expect in the construction industry, let’s talk some about how many women work in construction right now. According to the National Association of Women in Construction, and as of this writing, a little more than 1.1 million women are in the construction industry. However, that number is on the rise and is expected to increase in the coming years.
Also, according to the NAWIC and as of 2019, about one in ten construction workers was a woman. According to Family Handyman, about 13 percent of construction firms are owned by a woman, and 16 percent of construction companies have a C-level position as of this writing. And like many of these statistics, these numbers are projected to grow over the next several years.
What Jobs Do They Work?
So, what sorts of jobs do women work in the construction industry anyway? Some women do work as line workers, handling heavy equipment and putting up new buildings every day. But the majority of women in construction work off-line jobs in administrative or management roles.
Many women in the construction industry could work in a sales department or as office workers. Another large group works in management or the construction and maintenance departments. Only a few women work in service occupations or provide transportation.
More Job Opportunities
One of the most significant advantages of being a woman in the construction industry is having more job opportunities. Nearly 10 million people currently work in the construction industry, and that demand is expected to grow. Some sources say the construction industry needs to hire another 1 million workers if they hope to keep up with increasing demand, according to CNN in July 2021.
In a world where finding a decent job is becoming harder and harder, construction jobs may offer some excellent opportunities. There are dozens of jobs that fall under the construction umbrella and which require a variety of skills. From driving a backhoe to managing projects, some jobs can fit your skillset.
Stability has also become an essential consideration for many of us in the last year and a half. If you previously worked in a restaurant or retail store, you know how important it is to rely on your job. With the potential for increased demand for construction workers, you may have an easier time finding a career in this industry than in many others.
Whether you’re supporting yourself, your pets, or your family, being able to count on a steady income from your job is important. Some women in construction may feel that they have more stability in their jobs than when they worked in other industries.
Opportunities for Advancement
When you’re looking at a new career, you need to consider opportunities for advancement. You don’t want to get into a job that’s never going to offer you a promotion, raise, or increase in status. Having opportunities for advancement can help you find a career path that rewards your hard work and expertise.
In the construction industry, the sky’s the limit for some in terms of your potential opportunities for advancement. Women work in roles ranging from the worker digging the foundation for a building to the CEO managing operations of a major firm. You have plenty of room to work your way up into a leadership role that can help provide a better future and more fulfilling work.
Smaller Gender Pay Gap
The gender pay gap may be a major problem in choosing a career field for many women. According to the Pew Research Center, as of 2021, on average, women earn just $0.84 for every $1 man earns, even when both are working the same job. This gap could put women at a financial, social, and professional disadvantage right from the start.
Unfortunately, the construction industry is not immune from the gender pay gap phenomenon. However, some women in construction may experience a smaller pay gap than women in other industries. Women with the same jobs and qualifications make on average 95 percent of what their male peers do, according to Payscale as of this writing.
Lots of Professional Training Opportunities
One great way to continue to advance in your career is to pursue professional training opportunities when they arise. Learning new skills or mastering the ones you currently use may help many qualify for more promotions, raises, and opportunities for advancement. But in many cases, your employer has to be on board with you pursuing these training opportunities. No matter where you land in your construction career, additional certifications and skills can help you succeed.
More Access Thanks to Technology
When we look at why there are so few women in the construction industry, much of it comes back to a question of strength. In general, some women aren’t as brawny as men, and some construction jobs may require a lot of physical strength. This was especially true decades ago when building a structure meant hauling around all the materials yourself.
These days, however, technology has helped to level the playing field for women in construction. Heavy equipment relieves some of the demand, and women can now do the same jobs as their male coworkers. And as the construction industry has become more advanced, new opportunities have opened up in the technological side of the industry.
Opportunity to Improve Diversity
If you’re a woman considering a career in construction, you have a unique opportunity to help improve the field. More than a million women in the construction industry, but many people hope to see that number grow. By joining the construction industry, you help level the playing field and improve diversity in an industry traditionally dominated by men.
And when you join the construction industry, you won’t just be making a difference for the industry today. The more women see women working in construction, the more they’ll believe it’s possible for them as well. You have an opportunity to be an inspiration and a role model for the next generation of women in construction.
Challenges Women in Construction Face
As wonderful as all of the things we’ve discussed are, it is true that women in construction may still face some intense challenges. It isn’t easy being a minority in your field, and some women in construction may feel isolated in their jobs. Sexual harassment in any career is always a concern, and women may often have to work harder than men to get the same promotions, raises, and opportunities.
The construction industry can also be more dangerous for women, especially those on the front lines. Safety equipment is often built for men, so in some cases, women may not get the same level of protection as they would with equipment that fits them properly. And, of course, while construction pay gaps tend to be smaller, the fact that they exist at all can be a serious problem for women to consider in this industry.
How to Enter the Construction Industry
If you’re considering a career in construction, there are several ways you can join the industry. Getting some secondary education, including a high school diploma, GED, or bachelor’s degree, may help you stand out from other applicants. Some may want to consider pursuing a master’s degree in construction management if you’d like to work in a leadership position.
In addition to degree programs, you might want to look at apprenticeships and/or certificate programs. Special certifications to work in certain roles on a construction site may be required, and getting practical experience could go a long way toward helping you to land your first construction job.
Join the One Million Women in Construction
While construction has typically been a male-dominated field, that trend is changing. With more than one million women in construction today and counting, this industry is becoming more diverse. For some, a career in construction may offer more stability, plenty of opportunities for advancement, and the chance to be a role model for the next generation.
If you’d like to take the first steps toward your new career in construction, check out the rest of our site at InterCoast Colleges. Check out our trade programs today and take the first step towards your future.