Who Runs the World? Women … in Construction

The following content is sponsored by Trimble

Approach your average construction site and you’ll see a fairly male-dominated industry, globally as well as in the U.S. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, women represent only 10.9% of filled construction roles — yet several opportunities exist to bridge the gap, which more and more women leaders in construction are speaking up about.

A shifting workforce supports new trends in career demographics, with many eager to hire women for construction occupations including project managers, financial controllers, IT specialists, and planners among other needed roles. However, resolving common misconceptions and stereotypes of women in these roles is critical to spearheading gender equilibrium. 

A sure way to strengthen the movement is to provide a platform for inspirational women who’ve made advanced industry contributions while showcasing the many programs, technology, and mentorship opportunities available to help others thrive in their careers.

Highlighting Women Building Today

As the editor of Construction Business Owner magazine, Kathy Wells is all too familiar with the gender gap in construction, aiming to spotlight the women who play an integral part in building today’s world.

Since 2019, Construction Business Owner’s annual Outstanding Women in Construction awards have honored the industry’s top female talent, sharing their leadership abilities, expert contributions, and accolades with the goal of adding visibility to the women contributing to moving the industry forward.

The 2021 contest saw as many as 200 nominations across the country in several niche subfields, from female-led construction management positions to those focusing on developing a more robust technology infrastructure.

The selected finalists represent only a handful of the most influential female construction workers who collectively build a more inclusive industry.

Building Blocks for Success: Other Women

Although honoring powerful women helps inspire others to seek employment in construction, creating a strategic approach to attracting, hiring, developing, and advancing more women in construction is paramount to a sustainable approach to increasing female representation and resource availability.

Trimble Viewpoint hosted a Women in Construction session at a previous user conference with three female industry leaders speaking on their experiences coming up in the industry, how they're empowering other women, and supporting their success in the industry.

Some of the main takeaways from the session included:

  • Finding support from those who want to see you succeed
  • Actively pursuing construction leadership roles and conversations about advancement
  • Establishing a solid support network of other women in construction for mentorship and growth
  • Seeking inspiration by reading up on industry trends and listening to podcasts to learn more about the challenges women face in construction

The speakers’ most essential points touched on the trickle-down effect of bridging the gender gap in construction — for instance, how greater diversity leads to better business outcomes.

Another critical component is providing the necessary tools and resources to ensure those newer to the construction workforce can succeed. Ongoing training and development programs and upgraded technology keep everyone abreast of industry trends, creating a more conducive working environment and protecting essential assets.

Leading With Tomorrow’s Example

Fortunately, many organizations have geared their efforts toward encouraging women of all ages to learn about new construction employment opportunities, offering practical guidance for pursuing those opportunities and overcoming barriers they might face.

Transportation and Construction Girl focuses on introducing students to financially sustainable and rewarding careers in these industries, with a goal of helping more women push past stereotypes that may hold them back.

Massachusetts Girls in Trades (MAGIT) is another organization creating change. They hit their ambitious goal of 20% female enrollment in construction-trade schools in 2020. The group offered mentorship to middle and high school girls to reach its target, encouraging their consideration of these careers.

Other organizations, such as Michigan’s Women in Skilled Trades (WIST), provide exploratory career resources and training to prepare women for apprenticeships in construction subfields like plumbing, electrical, or carpentry.

Meanwhile, Chicago Women in Trades (CWT) delivers similar opportunities for women while providing recruitment resources to support female apprenticeship programs.

Women don’t necessarily need to pursue construction-related education to prove essential to the field. The industry demands expertise from all backgrounds, including accounting, project management, marketing, human resources, computer science, and occupational safety management. But creating a safe space for more women to pursue these positions is critical to ongoing success and is what many of the above organizations have provided.

Constructing New Opportunities for Women

A lack of awareness, accessible education, and recruitment have hindered gender diversity, which in turn furthers the overall workforce gaps in the construction industry over the last few decades. More organizations and efforts have begun to help fill the employment needs of construction over the next decade, and reaching out to women remains to be one of the least explored solutions.

Amid ongoing labor shortages, there’s no better time to take another look at untapped resources and candidates. More companies will want to consider joining forces with organizations working to attract more women to programs that help remove barriers and inspire women to consider the many job opportunities important to the ongoing growth and success of the construction industry.

About the Author

Melissa Uribes

Melissa Uribes is Vice President, Talent and DEI, at Trimble, where she has spent eight years leading people strategies as part of the People eXperience team.

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