Put the Hard Hat On! How Women Can Make an Impact in the Construction Industry

Put the Hard Hat On! How Women Can Make an Impact in the Construction Industry

While women in the workplace, as a general topic, have finally made significant changes to the modern workplace, there is still some way to go in some industries. Because there are so many different industries that have an antiquated notion of company culture, the roles associated with the industry, and the history behind it, it can still seem, unfortunately, like a long road for women to make a significant impact. The construction industry is one of those. Similar to cybersecurity or tech, construction is notoriously male-dominated. So how can women find a role within this industry, but also, find a way to change the turning tides and make significant inroads in a stereotypically, but also literally, male-dominated profession?

Choosing The Right Companies That Have A Better Approach To Culture

It’s certainly a long road to improvement across the board, but we have to remember that if we, as women are looking to make positive inroads in a specific industry, we can either go down the route of working hard to prove ourselves, or we can start to spread the message far and wide by joining companies that are doing their best already. Women face challenges in the construction industry, because of things like gender bias or a lack of adequate resources. This means that we have to find companies that can help, and have a more diverse approach to the hiring process. Whether it is a crane hire company that is providing a group of contractors to a specific company, or a building company itself, the culture needs changing from the inside out. We have to find the right company, as this can provide a substantial shortcut. Once we are in the company, this is when we can start to change the infrastructure. But it’s about providing those figureheads within the business that can inspire other women to join.

Having More Mentors

As frustrating as it can be to have to prove yourself as a woman in a male-dominated industry, it’s all about the group efforts. Mentors are fantastic because they can provide invaluable resources for their peers. In the construction industry, Anna Jacobson, of Morley Builders have to provide guidance, not just for women, but for their community, by spearheading peer mentorship groups. This is something that we can all benefit from across the board. More mentors in an industry that is rallying against the cries of the modern age mean that we have to shout louder. Female figureheads of power work wonders and provide a crucial role in inspiring a new generation of those in construction. Not just in terms of those women that sit in the boardroom, but those that can work in the field!

Increasing the Diversity

Diversity in an industry where it appears is a very strict hierarchy proves difficult for any person to break into. Gone are the days of macho culture, and now, we should encourage diversity, not just for women, but for any walk of life to join an industry where they feel they can make a significant impact. Women need to join construction, not just for the fact that it is a significant statement that needs making, but there are numerous benefits to being in the construction industry. Firstly we have to address the fact that there is a labor shortage. It’s expected that the need for construction workers is going to grow by over 1.6 million people. Due to the disparity between the millennial generation and the baby boomer generation, there is a distinct lack of skilled workers. The millennials that grew up on computers and less manual oriented resources will struggle to make an impact in any industry that isn’t electronic. But because there is a labor shortage, the construction industry is crying out for fresh talent. This means that it’s not just a way for people to enter into a specific role that gets paid really well, but it’s certainly a way to make an impact across the board. This is where we can start to bring in more diverse talent, and smash the stereotype of a male-dominated, macho culture. 

What Construction Industries Need to Do to Attract More Women

While the construction industry is slowly becoming more gender diverse, there is still a lot that needs doing to ensure that women are reflected in the construction industry. Part of it is to do with the perception, which automatically puts a lot of women often entering it but because of the changing face of the industry, not just in terms of gender perception, but also how technology has become more innovative, the industry is not so much about labor. The great thing in the construction industry is that there are numerous roles that need filling, not just in terms of manual labor, but there are so many different professional roles that cover a wide range of disciplines. Project managers, civil engineers, architects, and even economists are a handful of roles that can work in the construction industry effectively, and due to various long-term projects, this becomes a vital area, not just for women to work in but it’s one of the few industries that provide stability in a changing economic climate.

Working at Making Significant Changes in Perceptions

This is an incredibly grassroots operation. Because there is a changing face in terms of gender bias and perception, that doesn’t mean the work is done. If we want to inspire proper change, we’ve got to address the outdated perceptions of women working in manual labor industries, but also, what the perception is of those that work in construction across the board. In fact, we have to address it through the perceptions of young people. We also have to look at what influences them in terms of their career choices, as well as the social influences, such as teachers or parents. We have to remember that as children form their views early in life, we have to find ways to target children in a healthy manner, and enlighten them in terms of the career choices they want to pursue. As well as the fact that they aren’t limited by their perceived gender. It’s important for those women that are already in the industry to encourage better visibility of the opportunities. It isn’t just about applying for manual labor roles but there are other methods, such as by applying for vocational or technical jobs because of the education they had. As well as this, if you look to countries like the United Kingdom, where apprenticeships are prevalent, this is something that we can all learn from to help the younger generations into the industry. The goal isn’t just about getting more women in the workplace, but it’s about increasing that diversity, but at the same time we have to work and changing perceptions across the board. This is the one grassroots method that can really make an impact.

Making Sure Women are Retained in the Construction Industry

While attracting women into the industry is essential, we’ve got to make sure that they stay. Because women find themselves fighting the tide of machismo and outdated perceptions, it’s hardly surprising that women leave the construction industry within five years. Making sure women are retained within the industry isn’t just about the skills or even career support, but it’s about ensuring that discrimination is weeded out, supporting the development of one’s career, but also ensuring the pay gap is addressed. This is one of the, if not the most frustrating aspects of women working in a male-dominated industry. While more legislation is being put in place to ensure that women are paid equally, the wave way to make positive changes is to ensure that a diverse workforce is implemented so pay increases across the board. It shouldn’t be just women fighting for equal pay; it’s other minorities that may be paid less as well. 

This is just one battle, there is now the battle with aging employees, and even mature women struggling to stay retained in the construction industry. In one respect, we can keep women on board as mentors, but we have to find other ways to keep them within the industry. Career paths are crucial so employees, in general, can change their progression and plan for retirement. Because the idea of a balanced workforce is a very hot topic right now, there has never been a better time for everyone to do their best to make an impact in an industry where they feel underrepresented. In one respect, women have to want to work in this industry, and while we have to work hard to make an impact if we feel under-represented, the crucial aspect is all about the nurturing at a young age. Women should feel that they can go into any industry they want, as long as they have the skills. It’s not fair to say that the doors are closed because of who you are, and while every industry across the board is doing their best in this, for something like the construction industry, we still need to work doubly hard. 

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