One of the biggest challenges in almost all industries today is achieving gender parity. Gender diversity provides huge benefits in the workplace.
While some industries have made significant advancements in gender diversity, some industries lag further behind... and the construction industry is well-known for being in the latter category. If someone says, "construction workers," you'll likely picture a group of men in yellow hard hats analyzing an architect's plans or laying bricks on top of a scaffold. And "men at work" signs only help to reinforce this image.
This stereotype is rooted in reality. When was the last time you actually spotted a woman on a construction site? Or hired a female plumber or carpenter? Your answer is most likely "never." In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that only 3.4% of the total of 8.3 million construction employees are women.
But the construction industry has a lot more to offer than steel-toed boots and hard hats, and it needs women to help advance the industry in this era of rapid change. Here are 5 reasons why women joining the workforce or looking to make a pivot should consider a career in construction.
1. Fuel Innovation
Not only is diversity the socially and morally right thing to do, but it is also actually an excellent business strategy.
Research presented in the Harvard Business Review shows that diverse teams develop more innovative ideas. This is further supported by a study conducted by Gallup on the performance of gender-diverse teams versus single-gender teams, which found that the difference in backgrounds and perspectives led to better business performance and problem-solving.
2. Capitalize on Demand
The construction industry is currently experiencing a labor shortage. The industry itself is booming and projected to be one of the fastest-growing industries, with total spending projected to exceed $1.45 trillion in 2023. However, most construction companies are unable to meet the rising demand.
According to the Associated General Contractors of America, more than 80% of contractors are experiencing difficulties filling hourly craft positions that represent the bulk of the construction workforce.
And demand isn't limited to individual contributor roles. Given the industry boom, there are a number of open stable and high-paying roles (any project managers out there?) waiting for the right candidate!
3. Leadership Opportunities
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women compose only 7.7% of the total 1 million managerial positions in construction.
But given the highly collaborative nature of construction work, more women in leadership roles would help drive innovation and enhance productivity. Furthermore, as a woman in construction in a leadership position, you'd have the unique opportunity to drive change for the industry and make it a more attractive option for other women.
4. High-Income Potential
Salaries for many skilled positions in construction are on the rise, making a construction career a prime choice for women looking for a high-paying job,
The 2018 Construction Craft Salary Survey conducted by the National Center for Construction Education and Research revealed that salaries for many skilled craft areas are increasing. Project managers and project supervisors topped the list at $92,523 and $88,355, respectively. The next set of highest-paying jobs include those of combo welders ($71,067), instrumentation technicians ($70,080), pipe welders ($69,222), power line workers ($68,262) and industrial electricians ($67,269). Of the 32 categories of workers in the survey, 19 positions earned an average salary of $60,000 or higher.
5. Sense of accomplishment
The construction industry can give employees a unique sense of achievement. Yes, the job is stressful and the work can be demanding, but nothing beats the feeling of being able to build something from the ground up.
How many professionals in other industries can point at a school, a hospital, or a skyscraper and say "I helped build that"?
The construction industry has a long way to go in combating gender bias and supporting women in the workforce, but given the current demand for workers, there's no better time to pick up a sledgehammer (figurative or literal) and smash the gender stereotypes plaguing the construction industry.