Women continue to prove themselves capable of excelling in jobs ranging from medicine to law to engineering. In the construction industry – an arena notoriously dominated by men – women face an uphill battle. However, this doesn’t mean that women can’t find a place in construction.
Men Outnumber Women Significantly
Of the 7.1 million construction professionals working in 2014, women occupied fewer than 3 percent of those jobs, according to USA Today. When they apply for jobs in the construction industry, women often encounter sexism, discrimination, and other obstacles that many find difficult to overcome.
Women Face a Hostile Work Environment
If a woman receives a job offer to ply her trade in the construction industry, she might meet acceptance and encouragement from her employer, but face ridicule and harassment from her coworkers. If men have never worked with women before, they sometimes behave inappropriately or make false assumptions about a female colleague’s skills and work ethic.
Fortunately, organizations like the National Association of Women in Construction help dissolve stereotypes and promote workplace policies that discourage harassment. In areas where unions protect construction workers, women can take advantage of union advocates, as well.
Women Bring Considerable Skills to the Table
In many cases, women possess different skill sets and strengths than men. When women join the work site, they leverage those assets to improve the project environment and to enhance productivity.
For example, women excel at communication and relationship-building. They help resolve disputes on the work site and facilitate open communication between crew members. This leads to greater innovation and improved teamwork.
Women Fulfill Numerous Roles in Construction
Job site positions remain open for women, but other career paths also exist. Women hold jobs in finance, design, project planning, and other roles that allow them to contribute their skills and talents to the company’s objectives.
When women fear rejection or harassment on the work site, they often seek roles in the office. However, women can pursue any job or trade they want in construction, especially if they focus on companies that consistently celebrate diversity in their hiring practices.
Women Can Parlay Existing Skills Into Construction
The talent shortage in the construction industry combined with the potential for high salaries makes a career in this arena attractive to many women. Fortunately, a number of skill sets and educational backgrounds translate well into construction.
For instance, there is considerable demand for women in leadership roles in construction. Women who previously held managerial positions in other industries can find themselves in high demand when they move to this new industry.
More Construction Industries Hire Women Than Ever Before
An increasingly critical focus on diversity has led many construction companies to make diversity a priority in their human resources offices. They want to include women and minorities on their work sites, which provides women with a distinct advantage during a job hunt.
Assertiveness is Key to Success in Construction
In construction, as with all male-dominated industries, women must practice assertiveness to prevent problems on the job. Saying “no” to unreasonable requests and standing up for their labor rights helps them keep their careers on track.
Plenty of jobs exist for women in construction, but currently, the vast majority of construction workers remain men. Since other male-dominated industries have gradually increased their inclusion of women, construction could very well follow suit.