Report finds more women building construction careers

Dive Brief:
  • Construction jobs were among the fastest-growing for women from 2015 through 2019, according to a new study from Smart Asset.
  • The number of women in the position of construction manager increased 101% from 49,400 to 99,400, making that the third fastest-growing job for women overall. Other construction jobs that drew a significant number of women were construction and maintenance painters (up 64% from 32,600 to 53,300) and construction laborers (up 50% from 47,800 to 71,800). The number of women who chose careers as civil engineers also increased by 46% from 45,400 to 66,000.
  • Although these types of jobs are still male-dominated, the change demonstrates that women are moving into careers traditionally held by men. However, since the statistics pre-date the COVID-19 pandemic, Smart Asset said that the number of women holding jobs in construction and other hard-hit industries could change.
Dive Insight:
The Smart Asset study used data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which tracks information on jobs in all industries. Its most recent analysis shows that the construction jobs popular with women have a range of salaries, from about $156,000 for the high end of a construction manager salary to a high end of about $68,000 for laborers and painters.
The latest available data from the BLS is good news for women job seekers but doesn't come as a surprise to Hope Pollard, president and CEO of the Associated Builders and Contractors Maine Chapter. 
Pollard told Construction Dive that she has seen the number of women significantly increase during the last 20 years in both management and craft positions. 
"Construction is starting to change its image as a ‘dirty job’ and, instead, is seen as an industry that provides limitless career opportunities for people with all types of backgrounds, education levels and experiences," she said.  "And with an earn-while-you-learn-education model and the need for a diverse set of skills, women are finding success in an industry that values hard work, drive and creativity.”
But there is still work to be done in attracting women to the construction industry, according to Brian Turmail, vice president of public affairs and strategic initiatives at the Associated General Contractors of America. 
While Turmail said it is encouraging to see the number of women in construction careers increase, which he maintained has much to do with the industry-wide push to recruit more women and the preservation of construction jobs as "essential" during the COVID-19 pandemic, the large growth rates are "easy to see when the overall percentage of women in the construction workforce is so low." The construction workforce, he said, is still only 9% women even though women make up a little more than 50% of the overall U.S. workforce. 
"We clearly have much more work to do as an industry to recruit, hire and retain a more diverse population of workers, particularly women," Turmail said. "The good news is we are heading in the right direction. Moving forward, [the AGC is] committed to redoubling our efforts to attract an even more diverse construction workforce."