It seems that women in the construction industry had lots to celebrate earlier this month during the annual Women in Construction Week. From wide-open roles to a smaller gender pay gap, women are growing in numbers and finding the construction industry is a great place to build a career.
For starters, the number of women employed in the construction industry has been steadily increasing since 1985. At the end of 2018, there were roughly 1.1 million women employed in various occupation sectors of the construction industry. According to the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC), women now make up 9.9 percent of the construction industry in the United States.
Construction Offers More High-Paying Jobs
With average hourly earnings in construction exceeding $30 an hour in 2019, wages and salaries in construction are typically 10% higher than private–sector wages, according to the AGC. Wages are also rising at a faster rate than in other sectors.
There is clearly high demand for construction workers of all types. Of those more than 1.1 million women in construction, here is a breakdown of the different career paths and roles women are finding in construction, according to the NAWIC:
- 28% – Sales and office roles
- 44% – Professional and management
- 1% – Natural resources, construction, and maintenance
- 21.1% – Service occupations
- 5.9% – Production, transportation, and material moving
More Opportunities for Advancement
Even though there is a critical labor shortage with the overall unemployment rate the lowest since 1969, women in construction typically hold fewer craft positions. For example, of the 8.3 million who were employed in the field production of the construction and extraction industries in 2018, only 3.4% were women, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Building inspectors (14%), painters (7.2%) and helpers (5.6%) saw the highest participation by women in 2018, with their percentages in trades like carpet installation, carpenters, drywall hangers, and electricians landing somewhere between 1.9% and 3.7%.
However, experts say it is not only easier for women to get hired in the wake of the construction labor shortage, but there is also plenty of opportunities for advancement.
Although men hold most leadership roles in the construction industry, there’s evidence that having women in leadership roles can have a beneficial impact on any company. Though women own only around 13% of construction firms, 9% of those firms achieve revenues of over $500,000 or more. Such statistics prove the point that women in leadership roles can have a significant impact on the profitability of any construction business. In fact, 4% of all new construction firms were female-owned in 2018.
Construction Has Smaller Gender Pay Gap
Interestingly, the construction industry supports gender equality more than most other industries. For example, women in the construction industry earn about 95 cents for every dollar a man earns when compared to the average 80 cents for every dollar a man earns in other industries.
Specifically, women in the construction industry make an average of 95.7% of what a man would make doing the same job. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, that’s an 18% pay bump compared to other industries.
For example, average weekly earnings in 2017 for women in construction were $873 compared to $841 for men. Female construction managers earn $1,423 weekly compared to the $1,439 their male counterparts earned.
The Future is Female
For women, construction ultimately offers a lot of opportunities that most other male-dominated fields seem unable to provide for women workers.
Through all the obstacles women encounter breaking into the male-dominated construction industry, it appears that women have the potential to make great strides. Hiring more women may just be the key to helping the construction industry resolve its current labor shortage.
With construction expected to create almost 2 million new jobs by 2021, many construction firms will feel the pressure to attract, hire, and retain more women. One great way to do this is by offering industry-leading technology. For example, if you’re ready to step up to faster takeoffs, you may be ready to sign up for a 14-day, risk-free trial of PlanSwift.