According to 2010 statistics from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), women make up only 9% of the workforce in construction. That percentage equates to about 800,000 women employed in various capacities throughout the country including production, professional, managerial and administrative.
Of that number, about one-quarter are working in occupations such as plumbers, laborers, and electricians. However, there is evidence that this trend is currently changing.
Times are Changing
Today, the average construction site that has 100 workers will typically have only one woman on-site. This equates to about 1% of construction laborers being women. In addition, women-owned companies comprise only 13% of the total construction firms in the country. Gender disparity is still prevalent in multifamily leadership roles as well. Fortunately, there are signs that the industry is evolving with some projections expecting women to comprise about one-quarter of the labor force by the year 2020.
Though the shortage of gender diversity in construction is a global issue, there are signs that times are changing. Forward-thinking companies and industry trade organizations are taking steps to make the industry more inclusive of women by bringing awareness to the issue, committing to improving the industry standards and demanding change. In 2010, the National Multifamily Housing Council created the NMHC Diversity & Inclusion Committee to provide the resources to promote diversification in the industry. In 2017- 2018, the committee held two leadership forums devoted to this cause with another event held in May 2018. While these strides are being taken on a national level, office culture and hiring practices on a local level are just as important.
Improving the industry status quo on a local level could include implementing measures like creating a work culture where both genders are equally valued, creating job postings and descriptions using gender-neutral language, and encouraging female employees to get involved in the recruitment process. Not only do these steps help the industry tap into the talents and expertise that women have to lend it, doing so can also help create a solution for the shortage of qualified workers. With 500,000 jobs immediately available in the United States construction industry, this is a heavily weighted possibility.
“As a former Asst. Project Manager and now business owner, I find ways to help other women by joining committees within industry-related associations and using my voice to bring awareness to the challenges women face daily. My advice to women is to have an open mind and be confident. See difficulties as a challenge, not a failure. Motivation, persistence, and open-mindedness will keep you moving forward.”
Live Oak Contracting believes in hiring the best person for the job, regardless of race or gender. We have a number of highly-qualified and experienced women on our team, including several in high-ranking positions such as Director of Marketing, Public Relations Manager, Sr. Project Administrator, and Sr. Project Accountant. We are currently hiring for several positions and we are eager to meet with candidates interested in developing their career in the industry. Contact us to learn more about our services and available opportunities.