By Lynn Pearcey, MBA, Copywriter, AIA Contract Documents
October 31, 2023
Table of Contents
Construction is an industry that men dominate. Think about it for a moment. When you see a tractor moving to and from, your mind automatically imagines a man behind the wheel. The same image comes to mind when it comes to concrete pouring. You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone thinking a woman would be in charge of that process; it just doesn’t happen. A male professional almost always fills framing, welding, project management, all of those pivotal roles. The lack of female representation is a troubling trend when you consider that they comprise 48% of the mainstream workforce but only 20% of the construction workforce.
One of the most rewarding career paths in the world is construction, but so many talented women bypass this field because they don’t see themselves being represented. Women who are leaders and innovators in several other professions could have the same incredible impact in construction if given the chance. Times are changing, and women are authoring many of the changes we see in the workplace. Women are thought leaders, innovators, and difference makers who can add exponential value to any industry, including construction. Here are four simple ways the industry can begin tapping into this ultra-talented reservoir of resources.
Make Women Part of the Hiring Process
Sometimes, change has to come from the top. With that lack of women in construction, it’s clear that this is one of those times. In most instances, a man hires for all areas of a construction project. He knows the job, the rigors, insides and outs, blood, sweat, and tears that it takes to excel in this line of work. But here’s the biggest challenge: he also knows that he’s only seen men doing it, and this is why the industry continues to stagnate in terms of bringing talented females into the mix. All that changes when you factor a woman into the hiring process.
The men in these hiring roles might be stuck in a traditional way of thinking, never considering that a woman might be just as, if not more capable, of doing the job as her male counterpart. Bringing a female mind into the conversation changes this dynamic. She’ll offer a different set of eyes, heightened sensibilities, and insights that a man simply can’t. For any firm looking to infuse more female talent into their workplace, start at the top and make women a part of the hiring process.
Women often don’t feel welcomed in the industry. Worksites come with imaginary forcefields that scream, “Men Only,” keeping women on the outside looking in. This paradigm is tragic because, as we can see from their impacts in medicine, technology, finance, and so many other industries, there is so much they have to offer. So, how can the industry change this? How can the construction industry begin removing the stigmas surrounding women in the workplace that have fallen away from nearly every other segment of the global economy? It’s simple: open the door.
At every opportunity, open the door and make women feel as though there’s a place for them. On advertisements featuring workers on a site, make sure a woman is featured somewhere prominently. Whether it’s a print or digital version, social media or offline, the goal is for them to see themselves working in construction in some capacity. At conferences and public events, bring a woman in leadership to those gatherings. This strategy will highlight the fact that your organization sees them and the value they bring. It’ll also say loud and clear that they’re welcome to work here.
Reach Into the Community
The workforce dynamics are changing, and women are becoming the majority. To take advantage of this evolution, construction companies should consider developing mentoring programs designed to attract women, specifically younger ones. Partner with local schools as early as elementary and middle school to expose young girls to the industry. It’s essential to start early because, at this point in their lives, chances are they haven’t declared a career path, and, in most cases, they’ve never considered construction as an option. Firms interested in this path should consider organizing workshops that give these youngsters fundamental training, site visits that allow them to see the training at work, and meetings with female leaders willing to share their experiences working in this incredible industry.
Men and women are better together, and that includes the construction workplace. If you’re a firm interested in attracting and retaining female workers, remember these simple yet powerful steps. Include women in the hiring process because they offer insights their male counterparts don’t. Make sure your collaterals, digital and otherwise, always prominently feature a woman. Perception becomes a reality, and for women to perceive they have a place in the industry, they have to see it, so make sure they’re part of those pieces. Lastly, do the hard work early and create mentoring programs. Appealing to young girls and women early on can be the difference in them being the next wave of innovative leaders who take the construction industry to another level.
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AIA Contract Documents has provided this article for general informational purposes only. The information provided is not legal opinion or legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship of any kind. This article is also not intended to provide guidance as to how project parties should interpret their specific contracts or resolve contract disputes, as those decisions will need to be made in consultation with legal counsel, insurance counsel, and other professionals, and based upon a multitude of factors.