Just as Tough: Women in Construction

Thankfully, gender equality in the workforce is continuing to improve. We still have a long way to go, but today, women make up 47% of the workforce¹ and you can find them in any number of roles. But there are still some professions – like construction, science, and technology – that have been, and still are, dominated by men. Looking at the construction field more narrowly, a new study has found that, while women make up a small minority of the construction workforce, recent increases in female employment has led to the highest share of women in construction in 20 years.

Between 2017 and 2018, overall construction employment increased by 3.7%, but employment of women in construction increased at a rate 5 times faster – meaning that women now make up 9.9% of the overall construction industry.

This growth is good news for women, but it does not mean you’ll see lots of women on the worksite operating a dozer or excavator, as many of their industry jobs (87%) are still administrative and back-office positions. If we break down the numbers by job-type, women still only make up 3.4% of all tradespeople, 7.7% of project managers, 14.4% of construction and building inspectors, and 13% of construction firm owners².

And here’s some more mixed news: women in construction make 94-cents to every dollar a man makes in the same job – which isn’t great, but is slightly better than the 81-cents to the dollar women make on average in other industries.

What barriers need to be broken down in order to fuel continued growth of women in construction? That pay gap is a good place to start, as 43% of organizations do not actively monitor gender pay gaps. Big Rentz recently outlined further obstacles women face, which include:

  • Limited Advancement: 73% of women feel passed over for roles because of their gender
  • Injury: Equipment is often not fitted to the female body, contributing to a higher risk of workplace injury
  • Discrimination: The majority of gender discrimination victims in the workplace are women
  • Exclusion: 8 out of 10 women feel left out of company social events
  • Lack of Role Models: 47% of women have never worked with a female manager

It’s truly impressive how women with a passion for building and demolition have persevered in this industry, carving out a role for themselves within construction. Overcoming those obstacles is not something just anyone can accomplish, demonstrating how women in construction are just as tough as the men. If you are an employer or hiring manager, you can look into tips for recruiting and hiring more women – such as changing job descriptions and raising the profile of existing female employees. And if you are a woman in construction, you can explore available resources, including associations, blogs, conferences and publications.

Finally, if you are a woman in construction, we want to hear from you! Tell us about your experiences in the comments below:





Ethan Smith HeadshotAbout the Author

Ethan Smith

Ethan is a Content Curator for Trader Interactive, serving the commercial brands Commercial Truck Trader, Commercial Web Services, and Equipment Trader. Ethan believes in using accessible language to elevate conversations about industry topics relevant to commercial dealers and their buyers.

2 thoughts on “Just as Tough: Women in Construction

  1. I’m somewhat retired now. Finishing up on my 4th, & last self designed & built house to “Age in Place” in. Started in home construction in 1980 to learn to build my own home. Which I did in 1983. Back in those days, we did most of the work. I learned from setting up batter boards for digging the foundation hole to Formica & Corain. As an artist, I headed into the finish end early, but did all the tile / marble work. I was self employed as a Handy WOMAN, for 25 yrs. A SUPER niche, as there are many women who would rather have a woman come into their home. One or two jobs, & your name is passed around.

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