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This week, the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) and various other industry organizations celebrate, educate, and promote the role of women in the construction industry with Women in Construction Week, or WIC Week.

The theme of this year’s WIC Week is “Envision Equity,” which seeks to raise awareness of opportunities for women to enjoy a wide range of roles in the construction industry, from tradeswomen and project managers to administrative positions.

To further commemorate the occasion, Fixr.com released a report that compiled data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and interviews from key players to illustrate how women have broken down barriers in the industry. Plus, several women and home building companies share their thoughts, opinions, and experiences on where strides have been made and what else can still be done.

Women in Construction Statistics

Currently, women account for only 11% of the construction industry overall. But, over the past 10 years, there has been continuous upward growth in the number of women employed in the construction industry. In total, the numbers have increased 54.7% from 802,000 women in 2012 to 1,241,000 women in 2021, according to the BLS.

“I have noticed an increase in the number of women who contact me about working in construction, which is a direct result of women being publicly recognized on numerous outlets,” says Joan Barton, general contractor at Dirty Girl Construction. “This has also translated into a general awareness about the need for earlier education and opportunity, as well as a specific outreach by some companies to train and hire more women.”

The majority of women are employed in sales or office roles (38.6%); however, this is almost the same amount as those holding management and professional level jobs (37%). In comparison, very few women are involved in roles related to production, transportation, and material moving (1.2%) or service roles (1.2%).

One notable step in the right direction is the small gender pay gap. The BLS reports that across all industries, women earn 81.5% of what men do. However, in construction, women’s earnings as a percentage of men’s is 94.3%, which is the lowest gender pay gap across the measured U.S. industries.

Challenges and Progress

When asked about the obstacles women still face, most of the women Fixr.com interviewed report that the biggest challenges are acceptance and inclusion. Plus, many agreed that women don’t explore construction as a career option and are not aware of the various options that the construction industry offers.

“Women need to get reached out to more to let them know they’re needed in the construction field,” says Crystal Felch, field engineer at Greiner Construction. Angela Cacace, owner of A.Marie Design+Build, agrees that there needs to be “a greater focus on how to make programs more welcoming and available for women to acquire the skills they need to find their place in this industry that needs them.”

Although the industry remains male-dominated for the time being, organizations like the NAWIC and Professional Women in Construction (PWC) offer support, leadership, and networking opportunities as well as scholarship and mentorship programs.

NAHB’s Professional Women in Building (PWB) Council also recently chartered three new councils during its annual board of trustees meeting at the International Builders’ Show, expanding the number of local councils to 69 and the number of members to more than 2,500.

Real-Life Models

In addition to the national and local organizations, several home builders have made strides within their companies as well.

National home builder Taylor Morrison continues to strive for gender diversity across its workforce. From CEO Sheryl Palmer to construction superintendents, female team members hold a variety of roles at the company.

The builder boasts a near equal male-to-female workforce representation, 54% and 46%, respectively, and was recognized for its commitment to gender equality with inclusion in Bloomberg's Gender-Equality Index for the fourth consecutive year. Across all markets, the home builder employs 68 women in construction-specific roles, a 21% increase from last year and a 45% increase in the last two years.

Another example is Ronda Conger of Idaho-based home builder CBH Homes, NAHB’s 2021 Woman of the Year. She has been in the building industry for 28 years, vice president of CBH Homes for the past 19 years, and leads a team with a high percentage of women.

According to the company, the home building industry averages 10% women and CBH is proud to be six times the industry average with 62% women on their team.

Last year also brought the first all-female built house in Utah. The PWB Utah chapter designed and constructed “The House That SHE Built” with a complete team of women. The goal of this home was to highlight and utilize women professionals, skilled tradeswomen, and women-owned companies for all stages of the project.

The proceeds from the sale of the home was divided between scholarships, women-run charities, and future home projects. The scholarships will account for 60% of the total profit and will be awarded to women pursuing construction management-related degrees or trade school programs.

“We had one goal in mind and the goal was to make people aware that women can work in construction,” says Jennie Tanner, president of the Utah PWB. “The second was to create scholarships to help women get into the construction industry, and just to bring the awareness to them by talking to them and sharing our experience.”