A remarkable shift is occurring as women steadily increase their presence, influence, and recognition within the traditionally male-dominated industry of concrete construction. This blog explores the journey of women in the industry, touching on the statistics, initiatives, challenges, and success stories that define this transformative period.
The Rising Numbers
The statistics paint a compelling picture of progress. With just under 1.3 million women presently contributing to the construction workforce in the U.S., there’s been a notable 3.5% increase from the previous year. Over the past decade, women in construction have experienced a remarkable 52.9% surge, reaching 1.28 million in 2022 from 840,000 in 2013.
Female industry veterans have played a large role in the industry surge, spearheading initiatives aimed at facilitating women’s entry into construction. Women-led initiatives have sparked a rise in programs, diversity and inclusion training, and women’s construction associations, providing vital support and encouragement for women in this traditionally male-dominated field.
While most women in construction hold roles in management, professional, and related occupations, there has been a notable increase of 15.7% in natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations. Sondra Friestad, President of NAWIC Sacramento, notes the rise of tradeswomen across various job sites, reflecting a dynamic shift in the industry.
Despite progress, challenges persist, especially in the construction trades. Tim Taylor, Ph.D., director of research for the National Center for Construction Education & Research (NCCER), emphasizes the need for increased awareness among women about the opportunities in construction. Efforts are underway to bridge this awareness gap by engaging with schools, universities, and career fairs.
Real Women In Construction:
There’s an unfortunate misconception that women are unable to handle the challenges faced by construction workers. A white paper titled “In Her Own Words: Rebuilding The Construction Industry” highlights qualities women bring to the construction workforce, ranging from attention to detail and safety to team focus and maintaining clean and organized job sites.
Garnette Rouse, Concrete BIM/VDC Manager, shares her journey of earning respect in the field, emphasizing the importance of exploring opportunities through internships and apprenticeships.
Gina Esa, the founder of CNC Construction, Inc., began her career in the concrete industry as a child. With years of experience and a vision for her work, Gina has steered CNC Construction towards an impeccable reputation across multiple states. Her story serves as an inspiration for women aspiring to break into the trades, even in roles where they might be the only female.
Addressing Invisible Barriers for Women in Construction
As we celebrate the increasing presence and influence of women in concrete construction, it’s essential to acknowledge and address invisible barriers such as discrimination and the gender pay gap. While challenges persist, the industry’s focus on supporting small businesses and programs like the U.S. Disadvantaged Business Enterprise reflects a commitment to inclusivity and diversity.
The myth that physical strength is a prerequisite for construction work has been debunked by technology in modern construction. Hydraulic, pneumatic, mechanical, and electrical power have replaced much of the heavy lifting traditionally associated with construction, making it more accessible to a diverse workforce.
Women in concrete construction are not merely breaking barriers; they are reshaping the very foundations of an industry. The journey may have challenges, but as the numbers and stories attest, women are not just finding a place in construction; they are thriving, contributing, and leaving an enduring legacy for future generations.