Katherine Bell, HR specialist from Geneva Rock and Bernadette Mora, heavy equipment operator, and Tina Bird, truck driver join Good Things Utah to discuss women and the construction business.
Construction is a unique industry for women because of the gender pay gap. According to the BLS, women in the US earn an average 81.1% of what men make. The gender pay gap is much narrower in construction with women earning on average 95.7% of what men make.
According to the BLS, the median pay for a construction manager is $89,300 per year. As of 2015 6.7% of those construction manager positions were held by women. The BLS states: “Employment of construction managers is projected to grow 11 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. In addition to employment growth creating many new jobs, construction managers are expected to retire or leave the occupation in substantial numbers over the next decade, resulting in further job openings.”
These projected job openings give women more opportunities to fill higher management positions in the construction industry
Opportunities for Women in Construction
As of 2016, Women accounted for only 9.1% of construction workers in the U.S. and 6.7% of construction managers are women.
Women have many opportunities in construction aside from physical labor. Women have unique characteristics such as attention to detail, negotiation skills, emotional intelligence, organization, etc.
Top-ranked schools are placing more emphasis on construction-related career paths which brings more diversity into construction, including women. High schools and colleges are trying to break through old stereotypes and are encouraging more women to follow STEM career paths.
Construction is the largest single manufacturing segment in the U.S economy and is constantly growing. There is an ever-increasing need for construction work and skilled laborers.
Development in technology has made it possible for more women to participate in construction without having to do physical labor. Computers, design software programs, drones, machinery advances, 3D printing, etc. all make the construction process easier and more efficient. Women can offer the necessary knowledge, skills, and creativity to fully utilize these technologies
Women-owned construction businesses have more than doubled since the 1990’s
In 2007, the U.S. Census Bureau counted 268,809 women-owned construction firms. In 2014, 7% of all construction firms were women-owned.
The U.S. construction industry helps small businesses thrive. The U.S. DBE (Disadvantaged Business Enterprise) program requires general contractors to allocate certain percentages of work to DBE’s on projects that are federally funded.
Ever-Increasing Need for Women in Construction
According to Employment Policy Foundation (EPF), over the next 25-30 years the workforce will change dramatically as baby boomers retire and college-educated workers try to fill the widening gap. By 2050 there will be an estimated overall U.S. labor shortage of 35 million skilled workers. History may be repeating itself, and the biggest untapped pool of qualified workers may be women.
During World War II, women had to fill the employment gap of 16 million positions left by men drafted into the war. Women thrived in these working environments redefining misconceptions about women in “men-dominate industries” and proving that women bring great value to construction and other industries. The same spirit thrives today as women are becoming the new faces of construction and are redefining the construction industry and opportunities available to women.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that participation rates of working-age men have actually fallen from 87 percent to 75 percent over the past 50 years. During the same period, the participation rates of working-age women have increased from 32 percent to over 60 percent. With more and more women entering the labor-force, the greater impact they can have on misconceptions about women in construction.
Geneva Rock Products