Women in Construction
Normally, the articles that appear here are focused on safety. This is a little bit different in that it relates more toward opportunity as well as safety. Today, women make up 46.8% of the workforce in America but only 10.9% of those women work in construction. That means that for every 10 people in construction only one is a woman. Are we missing an opportunity? One of the major advantages for women in construction is that women make 99.1% of what their male counterparts make. That’s higher than any other industry. In addition, there is job opportunity. There are lots of different jobs and, progression is much higher in construction than in other industries. The unique aspect of construction is that in addition to the physical and mental exertion required, it also creates opportunity for problem solving. A natural skill that women possess. Many women have a natural instinct for operating machinery. Equipment operators are valued and hard to find. In fact, labor is hard to find. Are we exploring every opportunity? Women are coming out of the military with skills they have acquired while in service. Many of those skills can be adapted to a career in construction. Many women are looking for something different. They don’t want the college education and a 9-5 job in an office someplace. They want freedom, fresh air, and a challenge to be a part of something, to create something.
This is the safety part. Any company that has women in the construction workforce recognizes that there are some issues that need to be addressed which include some of the unique safety requirements. PPE may need to be specific to the physical makeup of women. Smaller vests, smaller gloves, even smaller hard hat liners or fall arrest harnesses. Sanitary facilities or areas may need to be considered. Jobs that require more physical strength may have to be carefully assigned.
Construction is a demanding occupation. Many women are single parents and there could be child care issues, transportation concerns, work hours, pregnancies, or any number of possible roadblocks but they can be overcome with effective recruitin
g and screening methods. The value added is that we are faced with a shrinking workforce as it stands today. Unless we can think out of the box and take some creative steps, we will continue to struggle to find people who are even interested in doing what we do.
Are we missing an opportunity?