Construction: It’s a Woman’s World

The number of women working in construction has consistently hovered around 10 percent since 1996. However of women working in construction only 21 percent are actively working on sites as opposed to in administrative or office roles.

On an average job site you will find roughly one woman for every 100 men. Just as elsewhere in the workforce, women encounter gender-related stereotypes and harassment. Additional barriers include risk of injury, a pay gap, and lack of mentorship.

But there are some unique issues as well. Much of the personal protection equipment designed for construction workers was designed for men, creating a poor fit on women and leaving them more vulnerable to accidents and injuries. One study of union carpenters found that women had higher rates of wrist or forearm sprains/strains and nerve damage than men, due in part to lack of tools that are designed for women. Person Protective equipment (PPE) such as harnesses, safety googles, gloves, and coveralls are still designed for men meaning that they are often too large for women leading everything from higher likelihood of exposure to harmful chemicals to excess material getting caught on other items.

There is some good news though. Women earn 95.7 percent of what men make in construction, though the number falls to 81 cents on the dollar for women of color.

The number of women in leadership roles within the construction industry is higher than ever, growing 15 percent in 2017. As the industry faces greater challenges finding qualified workers it is expected that the number of women pounding a nail will grow and hopefully create a more welcoming space for the coming up after them.