Currently, women make up less than 3% of the construction workforce, according to Curbed’s Amanda Abrams, and with the industry also battling a labor shortage, women become a significant untapped resource. As gender disparities narrow in other industries, it seems getting women into the field would be a no-brainer, but there are still some hurdles to overcome. Abrams delves into the issues below and how to move beyond them.

“There’s a perception that it’s not an industry friendly to women,” explains Katrina Kersch, chief operating officer of the National Center for Construction Education and Research. Kersch says that is due to things like the scarcity of images depicting women at work in the industry and stereotypes of male construction workers as unwelcoming to women.

And then there’s the issue of getting into the field. “If I’m a woman out there, maybe a single mother, where do I go? How do I start?” Kersch asks rhetorically. “That’s a very difficult question to answer. There’s not a clear path to get in.” Instead, there are a number of possibilities: vocational classes at high schools or community colleges, apprenticeship programs through unions, or jobs directly with contractors. But all of those routes are overwhelmingly targeted to men, and few are obvious to someone unfamiliar with the industry.

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