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Bridging Construction’s Gender Gap

by | Aug 21, 2023 | News

This article originally appeared in the Construction Executive.

When looking at the presence of women in construction over the past decade, great strides have been made in balancing the ratio between men and women within the industry. However, a true equilibrium remains well out of reach, providing an opportunity for today’s leaders to craft solutions that will attract more women. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women made up 14% of all construction workers in August 2022, an all-time high for the nation. This continues a steady, albeit slow, increase from 12.5% recorded in August 2016. 

This progress should be acknowledged while also recognizing that work is still needed to achieve greater balance. Stereotypes and misconceptions exist across the industry—the most common being that women can’t perform at the same level or provide the same quality of work as their male counterparts. It is common for people outside of the profession to assume that a job in construction equates to continuous physical labor. While women can do these tasks at a high standard, it would benefit the industry as a whole if more women knew about the range of job opportunities that exist within construction, many of which fall outside of regular field work. 

For example, virtual design and construction (VDC) teams can build out projects digitally in order to pinpoint issues in the design before field work begins. The job blends math, engineering and design work in a role that is suited for a range of skills. As the use of technology continues to grow within construction, more workers will be needed to fill these types of positions—increasing the need for a more diverse labor pool of both men and women with varying ideas and skill sets. When companies are intentional in their hiring process to assure a mix of diverse candidates, in gender and background, they ultimately recruit broader and better talent. 

So, how can industry leaders convey the need for people to fill these new roles and attract more women into a profession in construction? Below are a few key points that companies can focus on to draw talent from underutilized sources and grow their roster of women. 


Construction companies often rely on higher education as their primary source of recruitment. While college recruiting is certainly a viable avenue for cultivating new talent, it shouldn’t be the only avenue. Construction firms should also seek out community organizations in their respective markets, where underutilized talent is historically abundant. Forge new connections with local nonprofits that work to find careers for the unemployed, or groups that aim to introduce youths to different career possibilities.

There are also local chapters of national trade organizations, such as the National Association of Black Women in Construction, that play a valuable role in helping companies hoping to diversify their talent pool. Construction provides ample career opportunities to those who choose to enter the workforce after graduating high school rather than attending college, so educating students (especially female students) early on about the wide array of positions that do not require a college degree is critical. Getting in front of young female students to show them the possibilities within construction will open new avenues for the industry and ensure a more robust talent pipeline for the next decade and beyond.


As previously mentioned, our industry is clouded by the stereotype that careers within this field require physical labor. For women, it can be hard to look beyond the basic idea of what a construction worker does and see the wide variety of possibilities that lie beyond a hard hat. 

From marketing and graphic design to engineering roles, such as those on a VDC team, there are a multitude of options for different skill sets. Having spokeswomen from the industry who can serve as role models and connect with those who are not familiar with the opportunities within construction is an ideal strategy for raising awareness and introducing the next generation of female workers to new possibilities. 

When recruiting, companies should be mindful of the individuals they use to represent their companies to prospective employers. Make sure there are a fair number of females represented in recruiting materials and include women from different levels of management in the interview process. 


Though it may seem like an awkward practice for some, tapping into emotional intelligence training is an important step in bridging the gap between men and women in our industry. It is especially important for those in managerial positions to understand the specific needs of all their employees. This kind of training makes for a more inclusive and understanding work environment for everyone. Numerous studies have shown that individuals who possess higher levels of emotional intelligence are more likely to be hired and promoted in the corporate world.

Quarterly, or even annual, training programs geared towards understanding self-awareness, empathy and relationship management can drastically improve the overall efficiency and execution of an organization through the strengthened communication that inevitably occurs as workers come to better understand, appreciate and adjust to the different ways people relate and communicate.

Making efforts to be more intentional in your company’s recruiting process and finding ways to bring all employees together on a social and emotional level are significant steps in the right direction towards closing the gap between men and women in construction. The future of the construction industry is bright, and women play an integral role in keeping progress moving forward. 

There has never been a greater need for new ideas that will spur innovation and improve efficiency for a customer base that now demands methods which will deliver them closer to their budget bullseye. Increasing the representation of women creates the ideal laboratory for cultivating those new ideas and winning strategies by drawing from a wider range of life experience and worldviews. By committing to these three pillars, today’s construction leaders will keep the industry healthy and vibrant while creating a new paradigm that attracts the best and brightest, positioning companies large and small for greater prosperity in the years ahead.


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