The Current Statistics
Women make up 47% of all employed workers in the United States.
When you think of an industry dominated by men, construction might be at the top of the list. Of all the people employed in construction, women comprise only 10.9% according to McKinsey & Co. and most women (86.7%) are in office positions, while only 2.5% work in the field as tradespeople on a job site.
Overcoming Gender Disparity
There are three obvious factors that explain the gender disparity:
- Unconscious gender bias
- A lack of adequate training
- Negative physical perceptions of women
Although it is clear that women are significantly underrepresented, there appears to be some light at end of the tunnel beginning to emerge, including:
- According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of April 2021, overall employment in the construction sector is expected to grow 12% between now and 2026.
- The percentage of female construction managers grew from 5.9% in 2003 to 7.7% in 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). They also report the median wage for construction managers was $93,000 and the National Association of Women in Construction study found that women earn an average of 95.7% of what men earn—one of the smallest wage disparities in any professional industry.
- The plumbing, HVAC, and electric trades’ urgent need for skilled workers will create new opportunities for women to enter and advance. The residential service industry in particular is becoming more women-friendly.
- Nationally recognized groups like the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC), Women Construction Owners & Executives USA, Women in HVACR, Chicago Women in Trades (CWIT), Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc., (OTI) and Washington Women in Trades (WWIT) provide mentorship, marketing and networking opportunities to help women who are new to the construction industry.
A Look to the Future
Construction companies design and create impressive structures, from urban skyscrapers to sprawling, mixed-use residential developments. These meaningful projects take more than bricks and blueprints to complete: They require skillful, inspiring, and diligent construction managers—including women—who have the technical expertise and visionary outlook necessary for success.
In New York City, Non-Traditional Employment for Women (NEW) offers a two-month apprenticeship training program that can be the first step toward a union construction job for some of those completing the NEW program, as 15% of local union apprenticeships are set aside for NEW graduates. In the meantime, the Boston-area Northeast Center for Tradeswomen’s Equity aids women to gain access to apprenticeship programs for virtually all union trade positions and educates them on the excellent pay opportunities, benefits, and career opportunities available.
If you are thinking of pursuing a career in construction, many Community Colleges, State Colleges, and Universities, now offer Associate, Bachelor’s, and Master’s degrees both online and on-campus throughout the U.S. in construction-related programs. For a list of institutions, accreditation, and locations, visit https://www.chea.org/american-council-construction-education.