Why the Construction Industry Needs More Women in Leadership
Like tech and cybersecurity, construction is one of the most notoriously male-dominated professions — of all the 10 million people employed in the industry, only 9% of construction workers are female. This figure is primarily women in administrative and office positions in construction, as the number of women actively working on construction sites is even smaller.
Considering the low representation of women in the industry, how many women are in leadership roles? To find out, BigRentz took a closer look at Engineering New Record’s Top 100 contracting firms and Fortune 500 construction companies. They found that while 44% of these top companies have women in executive roles such as vice president and director, only 16% have women in C-level roles like chief financial officer and chief marketing officer. Furthermore, only 3% of companies have a female construction manager.
Women Still Face Challenges
In the construction industry, women encounter familiar gender-related challenges such as gender bias, sexual harassment, lack of adequate resources and benefits, and social perceptions. Challenges unique to construction include:
Most construction protection equipment is still designed with men in mind. The poor fit leaves women at a higher risk of being injured on the field.
Women earn 95.7 percent of what men make in construction. The number is even lower for women of color, who earn only 81 cents for every dollar paid to white men.
Lack of Mentorship
Due to the shortage of women, there is an overall lack of strong female role models, which discourages women from advancing in the field or even choosing construction as a career.
Why Women Should Join Construction
There are many benefits to why women should consider a career in construction, including:
The shortage of female leaders provides opportunities for women to improve team performance, contribute fresh perspectives, and advance their careers and have room for growth.
Higher Income Potential
On average, women who work construction and trade careers earn up to 30% more than traditional female-dominated careers like administrative assistants and childcare.
There is a Labor Shortage
In the next five years, the need for construction workers is expected to grow to over 1.6 million people. This opens up the opportunity for high-paying, stable jobs for women.
Feeling of Achievement
One of the best feelings is being able to build something from the ground up. Working in construction allows women to receive this feeling of achievement and develop a passion for building — a passion that shouldn’t be limited to just men.
Construction skills like team building, managing a complex project, and working with technology and tools can be applied to other sectors and careers as well.
Joining Other Women
Choosing a career in construction means joining the ranks of women who are spearheading the industry movement — women like Kim Roy, the first female CEO to lead one of ENR’s top contracting companies, and Jennifer Vides, a superintendent at Turner Construction who attained her role at just 26 years old.
How Female Leaders Are Making An Impact
Although only 7% of construction executive officers were women back in 2010, this number has experienced a growth of 15% in the past few years — the highest gain across any industry. With the number of female leaders rising, here are some things they are doing to transform the field:
Changing Company Standards
Female leaders play a crucial role in eliminating the challenges other women face in construction. They participate in female recruitment efforts, promote retainment and advancement of women, and push for better benefits.
Mentoring Other Women
Female leaders can also serve as a valuable resource for their peers, inspiring their careers and encouraging them to advance in their careers. Women like Anna Jacobson of Morley Builders have founded peer mentorship groups to provide guidance for their community.
Inspiring a New Generation
Like the “Build Like A Girl” initiative at Miron Construction, female leaders play a crucial role in inspiring a new generation of construction leaders with their presence and accomplishments. Girls will see that construction isn’t just a career “for the boys”.
Increasing the Bottom Line
A study by McKinsey & Company found that companies that had diverse executive teams including women were 21 percent more likely to be more profitable than the average.
As the construction industry continues to grapple with challenges like productivity and labor, there is a growing space for women to enter the field. It’s not just matter of equal representation — female leaders are making a big impact on the industry as well and companies are taking notice.
So, what does it take to be a female construction leader? In addition to looking at the number of women at the top companies, BigRentz also analyzed their time in the construction industry and the time they held their roles to highlight the success and advancement of women in construction and what makes them successful. To learn more, check out the infographic below.
Author Byline: Lior Zitzman is the Director of Digital Audience at BigRentz, a construction equipment rentals marketplace with a network of over 1,500 rental partners. He has more than 15 years of experience in enterprise-level SEO at automotive publishing and equipment companies. In his spare time, he enjoys website development, gadgets, and fishing.