Women in Construction – What It’s Really Like Today
Being a woman in a traditionally male dominated field like the construction industry is a lot more than just donning a hard hat and work boots.
We did an informal survey among our female employees to start a discussion about what it’s really like to be a woman in the construction industry in 2019. Here’s what they told us:
The Good News
Most of our respondents felt that while change can be slow, the industry continues to improve in accepting women in general. Each year as more and more women enter the field, the barriers are crumbling or coming down all together.
Many of our respondents said that they have seen improvements on the job sites from how it was in the “bad old days”: when vulgar graffiti and cat calls were pretty common. Things feel safer but there’s still work to be done, as some voiced feeling intimidated and vulnerable when they are the only woman on the site.
The best news is that more women are entering the fields every day. They are at the table in nearly every project and while men may still dominate in construction, engineering and technology, more women are entering those fields every year. Women are also finding meaningful careers in other related fields like brokerage, business development, architecture and design.
The Bad News
Respect: Almost all our respondents said that respect was one of the most important issues for them, and all agreed it had to be earned. Most felt that as women, they had to be better than their male colleagues in order to earn the same level of respect. They accomplish this by constantly staying ahead of the newest trends in technology, working longer, harder and smarter, and capitalizing on their years of experience.
Income Disparity: Gender equity is the goal and Boston is trying to make strides in this area, but it’s still an issue in all industries not just in construction – it needs to change on a national level. The hope is that in the future people will be paid the same for the same work and be judged on their capabilities not gender.
Women are the Future
However difficult the road might be, our employees find it rewarding and encourage women to pursue careers in the field and offered advice to help maneuver around the roadblocks.
As more women earn degrees in architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) fields, it is essential to inspire them to network and support one another. While developing a tough skin was necessary to get over some of the hurdles endemic to entering a male-dominated industry, the other important skills were: being proficient in math, maintaining superior people skills, and being an excellent communicator.
The overwhelming consensus was it was helpful to develop a strong network. Seeking out mentors, joining women’s organizations, and becoming involved in the industry in as many ways as possible were all important in creating a successful, rewarding career.
Looking ahead 5-10 years, there is every indication that more women will seek work in trade occupations, not just moving into decision making roles as clients and construction professionals. There is hope that compensation is brought to an equal scale, that women and men are perceived as equally qualified, and the industry becomes more inclusive, collaborative and diverse.