Women in Construction…Discuss

Dec. 5, 2018

Not long ago, I was in a discussion with a colleague about young women with ambition. I was asked about how I advise and encourage my daughter (who is a senior in college) as she prepares to leave the world of academia and is in the process of formulating plans to achieve new goals as part of the work force. I tell my Lulu that she should find heroes, real or fictional. She should aspire to have the qualities she admires most about them. And then above all, she should try to be better than her heroes. Doing so might mean taking a road less traveled or an unconventional path. I tell her that there are no constraints on her when it comes to choosing a career, even if it means breaking societal norms.

In a recent op-ed in Curbed.com, Amanda Abrams says that “Women are the solution to the construction industry’s labor shortage.”

In her piece, Abrams says, “Currently, women make up less than 3 percent of the construction workforce, which includes the building trades—hands-on jobs like carpentry, bricklaying, and electrical work—as well as management. If twice as many women worked in the field, the industry’s labor shortage would, according to data available from the US Department of Labor, practically be wiped out.

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And finding a solution to the ongoing worker shortage is crucial. Due to immigration crackdowns, economic after-effects of the late-aughts recession, and a lack of interest on the part of millennials, the field is down by 275,000 workers. That’s affecting housing costs, at a time when the country is already suffering from rising housing prices. Soon, even more workers will be needed: National Association of Homebuilders economist Stephen Melman predicts growth of 4–5 percent in housing starts next year, and an increase in construction-labor positions to the tune of 12 percent between 2016 and 2026.

With gender disparities narrowing in industries across the board, figuring out how to get more women into construction seems like a no-brainer. But there are a number of hurdles that first have to be overcome.”

The first and most obvious hurdle to overcome is the outdated perception that construction is an industry that belongs to men. And since that’s been prevalent for so long, it’s created the problem of women not having a clear path into construction. The Real Deal, New York real estate news, recently put out a video titled, “Why It’s Tough for Women to Work in Construction, and How That Can Change.”

New lobbying, associations, and programs are being formed to recruit more women into the construction industry. There are some difficult discussions to be had in leveling this playing field, but I think that resolving the difficult issues can lead to a more prosperous industry as a whole.

Let me know what you think in the comment section below.