Ground Breakers: Fighting for Women in the Workforce
A look at the industry during Women in Construction Week
Women in the workforce have made waves in every industry; breaking barriers and taking on roles that were off-limits a hundred years ago. The construction industry is no different, but women are still underrepresented in the workforce. Despite seeing significant gains in the industry in 2018, women are leaving the labor pool at an alarming rate.
In general, women make up about 10.9% of construction workers, one of the lowest percentages of women workers in any industry. That percentage is likely to decline as the year progresses due to the ongoing pandemic as 80% of the 1.1 million people who exited the workforce within the last year were women. In fact, in December of 2020, women accounted for all of the net job losses in the U.S. For the construction industry, which already struggles with a labor shortage, there’s no doubt that this sharp decline will have a lasting impact.
As a result, the message behind Women in Construction Week is far stronger this year than any other. Women have still managed to push through each of these barriers and challenges, and are making waves to empower one another.
These organizations in particular are putting in the work to ensure women have the support they need to strengthen their careers.
- The National Association of Women in Construction
Women in trades, project managers, marketing, administration, leadership and more can join this organization to build their technical skills and advance their careers in construction. NAWIC is the leading organization behind Women in Construction Week.
- Professional Women in Construction
Founded in 1980 as a small, all-volunteer nonprofit, this organization has grown into a national community that helps promote diversity in the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry. PWC hosts several events, conferences and development opportunities throughout the year, with chapter locations across the country.
- Groundbreaking Women in Construction
Hosted by Engineering News-Record (ENR), this virtual conference helps women expand their influence, learn new skills and serves as a leading talent event for construction professionals. This year’s conference is slated for May 4 – 6.
- Construction Week’s Women in Construction Conference
Announced on International Women’s Day, Construction Week will host an event highlighting high-profile members in different sectors and share techniques for driving change. From female engineer panels to senior leaders in the industry, Construction Week’s conference will help promote empowering initiatives.
- Building Design+Construction’s Women in Design+Construction Conference
While not yet scheduled for 2021, Building Design+Construction hosts an annual conference focused on inspiring, educating and connecting women across the industry. Through interactive workshops and collaborative sessions, the conference focuses on bringing women together.
- EmPower Women’s Leadership Conference
Slated for 2022, the EmPower conference brings together women leaders across industries like engineering, ironworking, manufacturing, construction and more. The event helps showcase ways to break barriers and recruit more women into a fulfilling career within the AEC community.
Supporting these associations helps increase visibility of working women, but internally, companies should ensure they’re uplifting the female pioneers in their workforce every day.
Our organization, like so many others, are standing up on behalf of women, diversity and the power of inclusion. While OxBlue continues to grow, so do our efforts to uplift the women in our organization. 37% of our total workforce and leadership positions are women. Here’s what some leading ladies at OxBlue had to say about standing up and speaking out on behalf of themselves and their peers:
“You have to make sure you stand tall and grounded. You need to balance your empathy for others, and your responsibility to get things done. Swaying too much in either direction will cause a disconnect between you and your team. As a working woman, I always use my ability to think outside of the box to my advantage. Even the simplest suggestions can blow the minds of some of your peers.” — N’Kyria Capehart
“Being a woman in construction is a unique and empowering position. Having confidence in yourself, working hard and believing in your organization will ultimately put you on the road to success.” — Katie Tkac
“After working in the construction industry for most of my professional career, I’ve met and chatted with my fair share of contractors. Of course, most of them have been men. It can be difficult to make your voice heard, so I’ve found that the best way to make space for myself is to be loud and boisterous.” — Megan McGinnis
“Give your hundred percent without any expectation. You will be rewarded for your hard work. Because, as Frank Ocean said, “Work hard in silence. Let your success be your noise.”” — Gurpreet Kaur
There’s still much to be done, but with an expanding network of support systems we know that women will continue to break the glass ceiling.