In recent years, more women are entering the construction industry. In 2022, women made up 10.9 percent of the construction industry workforce,1 an increase from 9.9 percent in 2018.2
Although historically construction has been a male-dominated industry, more employers are hiring women into these roles. This is in part due to the high demand for labor. According to a model developed by Associated Builders and Contractors, the industry needs to bring in nearly 590,000 new workers this year in addition to its normal hiring activities to meet demand.3
“Companies are now looking for the most qualified candidates, as opposed to gender-based hiring,” said Nicole Bacon, western region construction head at The Hartford. Meanwhile, more women are considering careers in construction because compensation and benefit packages are more favorable to women than in many other industries, says Bacon.
“Data shows that there is a lower gap between what men and women are paid in construction”, said David DeSilva, head of Construction at The Hartford. The gender pay gap is significantly smaller in construction than in other occupations, with women earning 95.5 percent of what men make in construction on average compared with 82.9 percent in other industries.4
In fact, more careers in the construction industry have opened to women as the industry has innovated and adopted the use of more machinery. “Construction is not a brute-force industry anymore. New technology and machinery provide both men and women the opportunity to work in this field,” said DeSilva. Companies can leverage rigging machinery and technology to maintain efficient jobsites, while also offering roles such as inspector, electrician, project manager and sales representative.
With more construction firms seeking to hire women, and more women open to careers in construction, it’s essential that construction companies take steps to welcome a diverse labor force. “Firms that focus on providing opportunities, compensation and respect will attract more women to their workforce,” said Bacon. Here are four actions construction firms can take to attract and retain more women to their labor force:
Acknowledge the Advantages of Hiring Women
There are many benefits to hiring women. “Women tend to bring diverse ideas and a broader perspective around teamwork. They are strong problem solvers. These abilities, not physical strength, are essential skills to have on a construction site,” said Bacon.
“While it’s often considered a male dominated industry, women have always been, and continue to be, valuable assets in the construction industry. The more exposure we can offer woman about the various career paths and opportunities, the more attractive this industry becomes,” said DeSilva. Companies seeking to hire more women should advertise the variety of roles available. That way, women can see there are many opportunities available that fit their skillsets and interests.
Provide the Right Equipment
Companies will need to purposefully provide a culture of inclusion on job sites, including separate bathrooms for women as well as the proper personal protective equipment (PPE).
“PPE won’t work effectively unless it fits,” said Bacon. That includes items such as glasses, gloves, safety vests and steel-toed boots.
However, Bacon points out that it’s not just women who might need different-sized equipment. “There are smaller-sized men on these job sites too,” said Bacon. “Not all women are a size small and not all men are a size X-large. Your company needs to have properly sized PPE for your workforce, not just for women.”
Fight Against Stereotypes
Construction firms can create open and inclusive environments for women by providing staff with anti-harassment and gender bias training to fight long-standing stereotypes and clichés.
Company leaders should communicate a clear understanding to staff of what management considers to be acceptable behavior. They should also explain how the rules around workplace conduct will be enforced.
Offer Intentional Mentorship and Training
Firms that want to attract and retain women will need to demonstrate that construction offers women a viable career path, along with the opportunity for mentorship and training. “As junior women see more women in senior roles, they will see opportunities to grow within their company,” said Bacon.
Companies should create allyship within their own firms and promote women to executive levels, reward employees for being active allies and advertise career options with opportunities for advancement. “Construction is an incredibly stable industry that has grown exponentially, and it tends to be a loyal, hardworking and steadfast culture,” said Bacon.
Learn more about The Hartford’s specialized insurance solutions for the construction industry.
1, 4 U.S Bureau Of Labor Statistics, “Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey”
2 The National Association of Women in Construction, “Statistics of Women in Construction”
3 Associated Builders and Contractors, “ABS: Construction Industry Faces Workforce Shortage of 650,000 in 2022”
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