Of the 10 million people with construction jobs, only nine percent of them are female, and just a third of those women are working in the field. However, according to this study by Balfour Beatty, this is all about to change. The study states that by 2020, the total number of women in construction will almost triple to about 25 percent of the total workforce. But for this to happen, construction companies to address a few key reasons why women are turning-down construction jobs.
Why women avoid construction jobs
1. A lack of effective female equipment. Traditionally, construction protective gear like sunglasses, hardhats, steel-toed boots, and gloves were designed for men. In many cases, they’re still offered to women despite being too big or wide, and therefore unsafe.
2. Unequal pay. In construction, women earn 95.7 percent of what men make, and this number is even lower for women of color who earn just 81 cents in the average dollar paid to men.
3. A lack of female leadership. This discourages women from entering a career in construction as they assume there is no room for professional growth. According to Lior Zitzman, only 16 percent of ENR’s Top 100 contracting firms and Fortune 500 construction companies have women in C-level roles.
With that said, here are three reasons why women considering construction jobs shouldn’t let this stop them.
Why women should consider careers in construction
1. Opportunity. While wearing safety gear onsite may appeal to some, there are many office-based construction jobs that women can fill, too. (Construction means more than just working in the field!) Think project manager, technician, or a job in construction technology.
2. Better pay equality. Despite a myth surrounding low pay in construction, the industry generally pays women 30 percent more than what they’d get in a traditional administrative or childcare role, according to this article.
3. Trailblazing. As the next female hire at a construction company, you have the opportunity to pave the way for future women in construction. Volunteer to lead workshops, ask for additional training, and apply for internal promotions to cement yourself as a force to be reckoned with in the industry.
“Women leaders are more assertive and persuasive, have a stronger need to get things done, and are more willing to take risks than male leaders.”
So, how can construction companies attract and retain female talent? Follow these five steps.
How to recruit women for construction jobs
1. Update your company values and policies If you’re trying to recruit more women for construction jobs, you need to have an inclusive company culture that accepts every applicant, no matter their gender, race, or sexuality. Include maternity leave in your employee benefits, and, when the time comes to offer a construction job to a female applicant, make sure the salary package is fair.
2. Standardize staff training and career development One way to attract and retain female workers is to create an environment that makes them feel safe. When new hires start and orientation takes place, make sure you have a section on preventing sexual harassment in the workplace, for example. This communicates to new hires that you have a zero-tolerance policy towards any act of the kind and goes a long way in making women feel safe.
3. Have equipment and facilities for women on-site Having a female bathroom for women onsite will earn you a fair few brownie points among women in the field. As will providing protective gear to women in construction that actually fits their face, fingers, and/or toes. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are roughly 150,000 accidents onsite each year, so it’s important you do whatever you can to reduce that!
4. Target women for construction jobs Refine your recruiting efforts to target female candidates for the construction jobs you have available. Never be afraid to internally promote a female worker who is well-deserving, and always reach out to programs in your area that might be able to help. For example, Built By Her in the UK, NAWIC apprenticeship programs in the US, and the NSW Mentoring Program in Australia.
5. Seek inspiration! There are several women in C-level positions at construction companies in the U.S. Just last week, Lori Gillett was promoted to CEO of Corna Kokosing, for example. Don’t be afraid to send women like Lori an email to see if they’re available to host a Lunch & Learn or attend a company outing. What’s the worst thing that could happen?
“Female-led businesses are better perceived than male-led businesses in all aspects of a crucial leadership driver: strategy.”
At Fieldwire, we embrace diversity, practice equality, and have a female-led construction team. If you’re a female (or male) looking for a construction job in construction technology, we’d love to hear from you! Check out the positions we have available online and apply to make the switch today.