The U.S. construction industry is facing a number of different challenges, from material shortages to the adaption and utilization of new technologies, but among its most pressing concerns lie with the people that make up the industry.
The industry as a whole is facing an impactive labor shortage that’s caused by an aging workforce that’s on the cusp of retirement, but it’s also among the larger U.S.industries that are trying to overcome a longstanding gender gap. Will addressing the lack of women in the construction industry help bring in the skilled workers that the sector seriously needs?
Misconceptions And Male-Dominated Industry
Currently, women make up less than 10% of the American construction industry, though that number may actually be closer to 3% if you exclude women who serve the industry in strictly administrative or white collar capacities. The reasons we see so few women in this particular profession may be similar or identical to the reasons we see lower rates of women workers in other persistently male-dominated industries like manufacturing.
Common conceptions of tough physical demands, repetitive work, and low wages have deterred a lot of women from considering a role in the industry. Many of these notions are simply no longer true. Like in manufacturing, technology has eased the physical demands of the job, wages for skilled positions have grown, and the work itself can be interesting and challenging throughout a projects many stages.
Some think it may simply be a matter of spreading the word regarding the new nature of the construction business, however, one of the biggest hindrances when it comes to welcoming more women may be male-dominated culture of the industry itself. Some industry professionals have said that the sector hasn’t been as supportive and balanced as it could be when making the job site just as hospitable to women as it is for men.
Benefits Of A More Balanced Image?
So is it the work itself, the job site culture, or another outdated notion that’s keeping more women from joining the industry? It could be any number of factors, and whether they are real issues to be addressed or just misconceptions to be dispelled, the construction industry could probably benefit from a more balanced image.
Apart from striving to meet with diversity standards and federal guidelines, like those that state each construction project should have at least 6.9 percent of women among the workforce, the industry’s labor shortage can really only be solved by one thing: more skilled and productive workers. Since women make up half of the U.S. population and only a minuscule part of the construction industry, where ample opportunities, decent wages, and rewarding jobs wait, inviting more women to the industry could be win-win.
What are your thoughts on the gender gap and labor shortage current affecting the construction industry?