The construction industry is notoriously a male-dominated field. Out of the 100 million construction workers in the United States, only one million are female. What’s even more alarming is that the number of females in the field is only 1%. The good news? This group of women may be small, but they are mighty. In fact, many of these women are making some pretty big names for themselves. So, how is the 1% making a difference right now? Let’s look at the ways.
Women as Leaders
Most of the women in construction have progressed to leadership roles. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, women in the industry primarily work in administrative roles, management, and production. Thanks to the steady increase of women gaining education on a global level, the highest percentage of growth happened on the management side.
What’s even more promising is the profits gained by having a woman in charge. According to one report, 9% of women-owned construction firms achieve revenues of $500,000 or more. Compare that to the 8% of all firms, and it’s to see that women are having a significant impact on profits.
At Wollam Construction, we celebrate the women in our field. Especially those making industry-changing moves like Kelsey Williams who is currently running our largest project in the company. Since joining our company less than a year ago, Williams has quickly made her way to the top.
“When I first started working in the construction industry seven years ago, I noticed a difference between how women and men were treated on a job site,” said Williams. “There wasn’t necessarily push back, but when a woman walks onto a job, she doesn’t automatically have respect like men do.”
For Williams, this wasn’t much of a surprise coming from a graduating class with only four women besides herself. But it felt strange when an older male co-worker told her that she should be at home having children, not working next to him.
However, a month later that same man came to Williams asking for help.
“Having him come to me was very rewarding,” said Williams. “And that’s how things in our industry are going to change— changing people’s perception of women one person at a time.”
Why Women Matter
The National Bureau of Economic Research explains that women in leadership are particularly helpful to a company’s overall collaboration because women are more likely to work cooperatively than men. As construction professionals affirm, most projects require an intense amount of cooperation to succeed. Adding women into the conversation only increases your chances of success on any given project.
Since Williams started in construction, she’s seen much change.
“Across the board, society is becoming more accepting,” said Williams. “In the past five years, I’ve seen more women become project managers and CEOs. More women than ever before are in leadership roles. I don’t know if construction will ever be a 50/50 split, but it can and will get better.”
How to Support Women in Construction
Encouraging women to join the construction industry requires active commitment. In a male-dominated sphere, it’s easy to keep things as is. But if construction has any chance of surviving, it needs thought-leaders and communication-bearers. That package comes in many forms, but women top our list.
Williams explains that the construction industry can support women by giving young women more role models.
“As women, we like to have a tribe and someone to lean on. I had that. One of my best friends works in construction and helps me maneuver through some of my biggest challenges,” said Williams.
Luckily, there are also many professional organizations to help women build their tribe like the National Association of Women in Construction, Women Construction Owners & Executives USA, and Professional Women in Construction.
Along with creating connections, Williams encourages women to believe in themselves.
“Don’t let this male-dominated industry intimate you. Stop doubting yourself. Women don’t typically have as big of an ego as men, so we tend to downplay our abilities and doubt ourselves. But we can do it, and we should stop doubting that,” explained Williams.
Learn more about the women at Wollam Construction by contacting our offices today.