Women in Construction: Why Gender Diversity Matters - Hammr
For years, construction has been a male-dominated industry. But today, more and more women are seeking careers in construction.
Women are vital to the industry.
This guide will show you why the construction industry is male-dominated and help you find ways to do something about it.
Read on to discover common struggles women in the trades face and what women looking for a career in construction need to know.
Be sure to listen to our Bred to Build podcast episode that discusses women in construction. The episode features an insightful conversation with Kristina Mahler from Steel Toe Consulting & Crew Collab.
Table of Contents
- How Many Women Are in the Construction Industry?
- Why Are So Few Women in Construction?
- Most Common Roles Held by Women in the Construction Industry
- What Is the Biggest Challenge of Being a Woman in Construction?
- Why Is It Important for Women to Be in Construction?
- 6 Reasons Companies Should Strive to Increase the Percentage Of Women in Construction
- Advice for Women Who Want to Make Their Way Into the Construction Industry
- Connect and Build a Community With Other Women Working in Construction Through Hammr — The Professional Network for Trades
Roughly 90% of the construction industry is men, leaving the percentage of women in construction at about 20%. More women join the industry each day and the overall total is now well over a quarter of a million.
Women have faced many barriers to safe and equal employment in construction.
Some common causes for the gender gap include:
- Ingrained gender biases
- Lack of female representation
- Negative views of women in construction
- Misconceptions encouraging male domination of the industry
Many women in construction face a lack of respect and common harassment, leading them to leave the industry or avoid it altogether.
Additionally, society has done a poor job of portraying construction as a gender-neutral career choice. Misconceptions and biases have been gatekeeping the industry and discouraging women from joining it.
There may be more men in construction than women, but that doesn’t mean that women aren’t in all areas of the business. Women can — and do — hold any position in construction, whether it be swinging a hammer or running the busines.
Some of the most common positions for women include:
- Inspectors (ensuring that projects adhere to building codes and other regulations)
- Constructions managers (coordinating and supervising work)
- Drywall, flooring, and ceiling tile installers
- Tile and stone setters
- Laborers and construction helpers
- Equipment operators
Women working in construction often feel that they are not allowed to do what they know they are capable of. This typically stems from a lack of empowerment and encouragement working in tandem with gender misconceptions that limit women’s abilities.
Women should be treated as equals on the job site. They deserve to be encouraged and challenged the same way their male counterparts are.
Encouragement is a powerful form of empowerment that can go a long way in helping anyone expand their capacity. Some people may simply need to be reminded that they aren’t alone and that someone is in their corner.
Another way to empower women in construction is to encourage an environment that welcomes questions as a form of growth. For many women, because they feel that those around them do not understand their capabilities, asking a question or seeking advice seems like it isn’t an option. But asking questions is how we learn and grow. Women need to be empowered to ask relevant questions.
Women are needed in the construction industry for several reasons:
- They offer a unique perspective
- They tend to be more perceptive
- They help create a more balanced workforce
- They can increase profitability and performance
- Their presence can help encourage teamwork and collaboration
#1: Women Bring New and Different Perspectives
Women naturally have a different outlook on things and can bring fresh and helpful perspectives.
From diverse life experiences to unique skillsets, women have much to offer at all levels of the industry — from laborer to owner.
#2: Women Are Often More Perceptive
Have you ever heard of “women’s intuition?” It’s real and it can be a massive asset to a construction company.
While not always the case, in general women tend to be more perceptive than men, especially when it comes to making decisions. Women often see nuances in decisions that men may not see — or don’t notice until it is too late.
This natural perception can:
- Help reduce issues down the road
- Provide different solutions to problems
- Identify potential issues or risks
This natural ability to perceive things others might miss is a great reason to have women in construction management.
#3: Women Have a Strong Ability to Multi-Task
While both genders can “multi-task” to a certain extent, women are naturally better at it.
Women can switch between tasks quickly and analyze situations with faster accuracy. Thanks to this ability, women are less likely to feel overwhelmed by tasks requiring them to focus on multiple things simultaneously.
#4: Women Create a More Balanced Workforce
Because of their unique skillsets, women help to create a more balanced workforce.
When women are encouraged to speak up and are respected for the skills they bring to the table, the environment becomes steadier and the balance offers a better atmosphere for problem solving and decision making.
#5: Women Can Increase Profitability and Performance
Gender diversity tends to have a great effect on the financial bottom line as well. Gender-diverse companies are 25% more likely to reach above-average profitability.
Higher female inclusion drives this statistic up even more. Companies with women in at least 30% of executive-level positions are 48% more likely to outperform less diverse competitors.
#6: Women Boost Teamwork and Cooperation
Women are commonly more likely to collaborate than men. Because construction often requires a good deal of teamwork, having women on your team is a major asset.
As the need for professional women in construction grows, so does the need for clear steps into the industry.
If you are looking to break into construction, there are a few tips you should know.
Find a Mentor
Especially for younger women or those who are new to the industry, having a mentor is vital.
Recently on our Bred to Build, we interviewed Kristina Mahler, Founder and Executive Director of Steel Toe Consulting. Kristina shared the importance of mentorship and the Crew Collaborative’s Ambassador Program, an initiative designed to raise up female leaders in construction and pair newer workers with more seasoned ones.
Whether you use a program like Crew Collaborative or find a mentor on your own, you need to be actively learning from someone with industry experience.
Connect With Other Women Working in the Trades
Network with other women working in trades through in-person networking and social media.
Hammr is the innovative app designed to connect trade workers of every age, ethnicity, and gender. If you are looking to connect with — and learn from — women already in construction, downloading Hammr is a must.
Here are four women in the Hammr community who are always open to networking and building other women up. Feel free to open the app and send them a message!
Gloria Marie based in New York (Owner, Contractor, Project Manager)
Niya Doncheva based in Los Angeles (Owner, Carpenter, Furniture Refinisher)
Kerstin Dart based in Medicine Hat, AB (Entrepreneur, Woodworker)
Robin P based in Reno (Union Apprentice Pipefitter)
Try Out as Many Trades as Possible
Gain experience early in different trades.
Try volunteering with a local initiative that builds homes. See if any construction companies near you have available internships, offer ride-along-type programs, or offer rotational trade programs.
Bottom line: We've heard it many times from industry professionals, don't quite because you don't like a certain trade. Get involved in as many projects as you can so that you can get an idea of what you might want to do long-term.
Don’t Decide Your Path at the Age of 18
You’re finishing your senior year of high school and the pressure is on. Everyone wants to know where you are going to college and what you want to study.
It can be easy to assume that you should have your life already figured out.
But the truth is, you shouldn’t.
As any college student can tell you, the thing you always thought you wanted to do often doesn’t meet your expectations once you start pursuing it.
Give yourself some time, gain some experience, and don’t let the pressure to plan your life leave you stuck in an unfulfilling career.
At this stage of your life, chase experience, not money.
Don’t Shy Away From Intimidating Tasks
Starting a new career is scary.
Starting a career as a woman in a male-dominated field can be terrifying.
From day one, you are going to face intimidating tasks and situations. Don’t shy away from them.
Embrace the challenges and strive to build a reputation of being someone who refuses to jump ship when things get tough.
Women can do anything … but that means they have to actually do things. Keep pressing on — it will get easier over time.
Being a woman in the construction industry is not always easy, but there are others just like you looking to learn, grow, and build together.
Hammr provides women in construction with a social platform that allows them to connect in meaningful ways.
If you're looking for a way to gain a supportive network with other professional women in construction, we got your back.
Download the Hammr app today and start building your network of women in construction.