Celebrating Women in Construction Week
March 3-9, 2019 marks the 59th annual Women in Construction (WIC) Week, a time set aside to spread awareness of the role of women in the construction industry.
Founded by the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC), WIC Week highlights women as an important, visible component of the construction industry while also drawing attention to the many opportunities available for women construction workers.
Sandy Field, past-president of NAWIC, points out:
“While there are more than one million women employed in the construction industry, women only comprise approximately 10% of the construction workforce. These women, whether they are administrative specialists, general contractors, subcontractors, tradespeople, or professionals, are vital elements to the construction process.
Women in Construction Week is simply a time set aside to thank those women for all their efforts toward successful construction projects. WIC Week will also bring attention to the industry and encourage others to realize that construction is a viable, profitable career field.”
With over 120 chapters, the 4000+ NAWIC members spend WIC Week highlighting the growing role of women working in construction and hosting events such as:
- Panel discussions which cover topics like challenges faced in the workplace, harassment, and career development.
- Fundraisers to help fund chapter community outreach.
- High school presentations to facilitate an understanding of the careers that are available to women in the construction industry.
- Efforts to recruit women into the construction workforce.
The NAWIC’s goal is to bring awareness of the role of women in the construction industry while also normalizing the idea of it and making it clear that construction is a viable avenue for a successful career.
Women In Construction, by the Numbers
What are the realities of women in the construction industry? In the words of Dove Sifers-Putman, CBT (president of NAWIC):
”Construction has less than 9% of women working in the industry, in the actual trades, it is only 3%.”
This means that, while women are breaking into the construction industry more than ever before, it is still a very male-dominated field – particularly in skilled trades like masonry, welding, carpentry, etc.
However, the number of women in the construction workforce is on the rise – up from 807K in 2010 to 970K in 2017 – and won’t be slowing down any time soon.
Why Women Should Pursue a Career in Construction
The goal of WIC Week is to celebrate women in construction and recruit new women to join.
Here are a few reasons why you should consider a career in construction.
The Construction Industry Wants You
Industries are starting to understand that diversity in the workplace pays, for everyone. Research shows that companies in the top quarter of gender diversity are 21 percent more likely to have financial returns above respective national industry medians.
According to Glassdoor, 69% of executives consider diversity and inclusion an important issue.
The Architecture, Engineering and Construction Industry is listening.
A growing number of companies are making diversity and inclusion a priority, creating dedicated leadership programs and ensuring a positive, team environment for female workers.
These programs are designed to give female employees an opportunity to share both challenges and success they experience and encourage mentor-apprentice relationships between women with experience in the industry and those who are just starting out.
High Pay With a Narrow Pay Gap = More $ For Women Construction Workers
In 2017, the median annual wage for all construction jobs was $44,730, coming in at $7,000 more the median annual wage for all U.S. occupations.
And for women, the construction industry offers a unique pay advantage.
On average, women in the U.S. earn 81.1% of what their male equivalents make.
Not in the construction industry.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women in the construction industry are averaging 95.7% of what the men they work with make.
That’s an 18% higher average and a profound narrowing of the gender pay gap.
The Industry Grows as the Workforce Dwindles
It is projected that, between 2016 and 2026, the construction industry will grow 11%, adding 747,600 new jobs.
However, 80% of U.S. construction firms report that they are unable to find enough skilled constructions workers to meet demand.
Now more than ever, the construction industry needs workers to fill a high number of positions that will be opening up in the near future.
With a growing atmosphere of inclusion, good pay with a narrower pay gap, and high demand, we can celebrate women who are in the construction industry now and look forward to celebrating many more in the near future.