Construction work is traditionally seen as a man’s work. Even the signs on most constructions sites read, “Men at Work”. However, increasing women in construction can be a very good thing, not only for the economy but for working class people overall.
Millions of jobs go unfilled in the construction industry every year and one way to alleviate that burden would be to introduce more women into the field. However, there needs to be an examination of the facts before we proceed any further.
How Many Women Work in Construction?
At this point, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were less than a million women in the construction workforce compared to nearly 9 million men. Of the 939,000 women that worked construction trades, 45% were in sales, 31% in professional management positions, 21% in natural resources, and the rest in service, transportation, and production.
The disparity is huge and clear. Though the wage gap in the construction industry (97 cents on the dollar) is not nearly as vast as it is perceived to be overall, it still needs to be closed. Moreover, increased female participation will also work to decrease the unemployment rate in the construction sector that needs to be addressed.
Why Should Women Work in Construction?
There are various opportunities for women in the construction industry that wouldn’t otherwise be available to them in other careers. Not only does it empower women to literally build the cities and the buildings that they live in, but it also allows them to earn 30% more than those that are considered traditionally feminine jobs.
The biggest reason why women should enter the construction industry is that there is a labor shortage in the world. Over the next five years, there is going to be an increase of 1.6 million jobs in the industry.
A survey by the Associated General Contractors of America found that 75% of firms planned to hire more employees in 2018, however, 82% of the same people surveyed said that it would be harder to recruit and hire qualified workers.
According to the ILO (International Labor Organization), there is a 26.5% gender gap in the labor force that, if closed, could help alleviate the problem of unfilled jobs in the construction industry.
Including more women in construction could increase the overall GDP as well, as it is estimated that the gender gap in employment costs the economy 15% of its GDP. Furthermore, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research found in 2017 that equal pay would add half a trillion dollars to the US economy.
And in developing countries, equal pay would add $2 trillion to women’s earnings. Construction is a profession that can allow women to do all that; hence, it’s worth getting more women into construction.
How Can We Encourage More Female Participation?
Special programs and recruitment seminars can surely help more women to consider a career in construction. There is a need for a general message to go out that says that women can do construction work and that it will help them grow economically.
At this point, the gender gap in construction is so pronounced due to the traditional, masculine aura surrounding the profession itself. However, if more women are incentivized to be recruited by governments and become mentors, then the gap can be closed. And as it has been shown, this can be a great thing for the economy worldwide.
Women Making an Impact in Construction
In 2010, only 7% of construction executive officers were women. Today, that number has grown by 15%, and it has seen the highest gain across any industry in the world: their impact has been felt.
Company Standards are Changing
Female leaders are playing a greater role in getting rid of the unfair challenges that women have to overcome in the construction industry. They are participating in more female recruitment efforts, promoting retainment and advancement of women in the sector as well as encouraging equal pay and better benefits.
More Women are Being Inspired
As more women are joining the construction industry, particularly construction administration, other women are gaining the confidence to follow suit. In turn, women in higher positions are training and mentoring those entering the field.
Profits are Increasing
The most objective, measurable impact is that hiring more women resulted in a rise in construction industry profits. A study by McKinsey and Company has found that the companies that had diverse executive teams that included women were 21% more likely to be profitable than those that didn’t.
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