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HOW WOMEN ARE CHANGING THE FACE OF CONSTRUCTION

The image of the construction worker as beefy and male is slowly changing in the industry, as more and more women are eyeing the field.

Women traditionally aren’t raised with tools in their hands, so construction isn’t typically the industry many might consider when seeking a career. But for those women who want to bypass college and go into a trade, the construction industry can be an attractive alternative.

A massive shortage of skilled labor is one reason why more opportunities are opening up for women in construction. Male construction workers have left the industry in droves since the last recession, leaving a vacuum women are only too happy to fill. While it is true that less men and women are seeking physically demanding jobs today, the industry’s growing dependence on new technology is creating a demand for employees that have the skills needed to operate these advances. This includes women who in the past might not have considered a career in construction.

That doesn’t mean making inroads in a male dominated industry has been easy for women. Chauvinism is still a problem and women often have to go above and beyond to prove their worth – and physical strength – by working twice as hard as male co-workers. Sexual harassment and discrimination, although illegal, are also challenges women continue to face.

Women also only account for 9.1 percent of the construction workforce in the U.S. while continuing to earn less than their male coworkers. However, male counterparts are becoming more comfortable with women on the job site and project managers are pushing for more diversity in the field, with initiatives being taken to sign up young women to construction apprenticeships. While many men are initially resistant to these changes, once a woman has demonstrated that she has the ability and skills needed, she often becomes the go-to person on construction projects that require viewing challenges from a new perspective.

One area where women are making tremendous headway in the industry is in leading the global green building movement. Nearly 50 percent of Established Green Building Councils, i.e. the most advanced councils representing the top tier of WorldGBC membership, are headed by women. Women more than men tend to desire a cleaner environment and therefore bring sustainable thinking to the construction industry with new ideas on how the field can make positive impacts on the environment.

According to USGBC, in 2018 women played a major role in helping states like Texas, Illinois, Massachusetts, Washington and New York achieve the highest levels of green building per capita and rank on the USGBC’s annual Top Ten States for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) list. And while women still haven’t achieved economic and leadership equality in the construction workforce, with the top tier executive positions still dominated by men, the green building movement is an area that is providing opportunities for women to get ahead in the industry as the activity in this area continues to increase and dominate future construction projects.

Regardless of whether it is green building or other construction projects, male executives in the industry should consider the ways that women can benefit and enrich their company or their construction projects. A true team is made up of people with different skill sets and expertise, and women can bring that to the table.

In fact, it is beneficial to all in the industry to include and encourage women to choose construction as a career choice. Not only can women fill the severe workforce shortage that the industry is currently experiencing, but they can offer new perspectives and ideas that can only benefit a company and the industry as a whole. This insight has not been lost on Imburgia Consulting, LLC, where half of our team is made up of women.

Contact Imburgia Consulting and let our team of men and women advise you on your next construction project.

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