The Construction Labor Market is Gaining More Women

Insight - 33 Min read

April 18, 2024

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that as of 2020, women make up 10.9% of the construction industry - a 9% jump from the previous decade.

Construction is an ever-growing industry that offers thousands of job openings for both men and women. Additionally, the U.S. government recently passed an infrastructure bill that will provide federal investments in various infrastructure projects, generating even more demand for construction materials and workers. In fact, construction spending is expected to increase 5% this year and 5.5% in 2023.

According to a SmartAsset study in 2020, construction is one of the fastest-growing jobs for women in the United States. Between 2015 and 2019, the number of women in construction management increased by 10%, while the number of female construction laborers and civil engineers hired grew by 50%.

In 2021, Levelset surveyed women in construction and manufacturing and found that about 80% loved their job. This is great news for an industry that has been dealing with a shortage of skilled workers!

What Do Women Do In Construction?

Although women can take on any role in the construction industry, the trade and executive positions particularly lack female representation. About 87% of women in the construction industry work in office positions, and only about 2.5% work in trades occupations. These statistics are unfortunate; however, more women are entering the construction industry today, inspiring future generations to pursue the same path.

Construction Industry: Navigating Labor Challenges in Building Tomorrow

The construction industry, a cornerstone of economic development, faces ongoing labor challenges. Construction firms grapple with the task of staffing projects efficiently, making workforce management a critical aspect of successful ventures. As construction projects continue to rise in complexity and scale, the need for skilled and dedicated construction workers becomes increasingly apparent. To address this demand, apprenticeship programs, endorsed by entities like the Laborers' International Union, play a pivotal role in training and cultivating the next generation of professionals who will shape the industry's future.

Construction Workers: The Backbone of Building Excellence

Construction workers, the unsung heroes of towering skyscrapers and intricate infrastructures, form the backbone of the construction industry. Their dedication and skill are the driving force behind the successful completion of construction projects. Laborers, who often operate under the umbrella of the Laborers' International Union, contribute their expertise to diverse tasks on construction sites. As the demand for skilled workers rises, apprenticeship programs become invaluable, providing a structured pathway for individuals to acquire the necessary skills and join the ranks of construction workers shaping the landscapes of tomorrow.

The Construction Labor Shortage

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are about half a million job openings in the construction industry, compared to the sector' previous record of 438,000 as of April 2019. These numbers are expected to grow as current workers are aging out of their positions rapidly.

As of now, twenty percent of construction workers are 55 or older. Going by the average retirement age for contractors of 61, the industry will likely lose one-fifth of its workers in the next six years. This is an alarming statistic, especially considering the expected increase in demand for construction work during that time. Bringing more women into the industry will help ease the labor shortage and balance out the diversity in the trades.

The Future of Women in Construction

As more and more women join the construction industry, we can expect to see a societal shift that makes the industry more inclusive. Currently, the ratio in the trades and education is one woman for about every 20 men. Despite being such a promising career with growth opportunities and benefits, why are so few women in the industry?

Male-dominated industries, company culture, recruitment bias, and tools and gear designed with men in mind are a few of the main contributors to the lack of women in the field. Balancing the male-to-female ratio will be an uphill battle. Still, many construction companies are learning more about how they can make their business more appealing and inclusive for women.

Additionally, gender diversity is a good business strategy. For example, The Peterson Institute reports that companies prioritizing gender diversity were 46% more likely to outperform the industry standard. According to a survey from Credit Suisse, companies with women making up half of their senior managers generated 10% more cash flow than their peers.

Recruiting More Women in Construction

Hiring experts report that women are interested in the same perks as men. They want a fair salary, good benefits, and growth opportunities, which are all priorities for female construction workers. However, there are a few strategies that construction companies can use to appeal to the labor pool and recruit more women.

  • Inclusive job listings: When creating a job listing, use inclusive language that includes neutral pronouns to appeal to both men and women. Emphasize your organization's dedication to diversity, and mention inclusive benefits such as "parental leave".

  • Initiate the conversation: Many women are hesitant to apply for construction jobs out of fear of being glossed over in favor of a male counterpart. To recruit more women to your team, don't be afraid to make the initial contact and begin the conversation by inviting them to apply or interview for a position.

  • Bring women into the hiring process: Having other women involved in the hiring process will help female candidates feel more welcome and comfortable. Rather than addressing a room full of men, seeing female faces in the crowd will allow them to envision themselves as an employee and will show them that you have a robust and diverse team.

More women entering the construction industry is great news for the workforce as a whole. By taking a few additional steps, you can help improve cash flow, enhance company performance, and diversify your team by balancing the male-to-female worker ratio in your organization.

Here's a table summarizing the trends and aspects of women in the construction labor market:

This table provides an overview of the increasing presence of women in the construction labor market, the challenges faced by the industry, and strategies to recruit and retain female workers.

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