New Report Highlights Critical Issues for Women in Construction – Cindy Barth

The Law Offices of John Caravella, P.C. does not own this content. This content was created by Cindy Barth, and was published to BizWoman on April 4th, 2024. To view the full article, please click here.

Although women are finding increased opportunities for advancement within the construction industry, a number of challenges still persist, a new study from Lumber, a construction workforce management platform, shows.

Among the notable findings from Lumber’s 2024 She Builds Nation report:

  • 72% of respondents believe there are ample opportunities for women to advance in the construction industry.
  • 66% of respondents said there is potential for women to thrive in entrepreneurship within the industry.
  • 68% agreed that there is access to training and professional development for women.
  • 67% found integration into a predominantly male-centric environment relatively smooth, contingent upon the fostering of an inclusive organizational culture.

However, the survey also revealed a nuanced landscape concerning gender equality and support structures. While 51% of respondents perceived equal pay opportunities for women, the remaining respondents voiced concerns about pay parity and assertiveness in negotiations.

Similarly, 55% expressed reservations regarding the adequacy of support systems available to women in construction, suggesting a need for enhanced awareness and access to existing resources.

Other challenges within the industry, according to the report:

  • 67% of women said that gender-friendly equipment is not available at construction sites.
  • 85% said there are no maternity-friendly safety equipment at construction sites.
  • 64% said the availability of gender-friendly restrooms at construction sites was a challenge.
  • 52% said attracting and retaining talent still is a big issue.

The Lumber report findings related to the number of women working in the construction industry are similar to current U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics, which show that women only comprise 10% of the construction industry’s workforce, with only 4% actively engaged in trade work at construction sites.

What makes the numbers more notable is the industry’s continued shortage of workers. For instance, in 2023, 83% of construction firms grappled with unfilled positions, with 88% specifically seeking craft workers for on-site projects, the data showed. Even so, the actual presence of women in labor roles on construction sites remains disproportionally low at 4%. And for women business owners in the industry, the numbers still remain low at just 13%.

“As a woman business owner, representation makes a significant difference,” said Jennifer Todd, president of LMS General Contractors. “Seeing another women owning a company can inspire confidence and connection. Moreover, employing women fosters an understanding of their needs, such as time off for family commitments. It’s about creating an environment where employees feel understood and supported.”

Todd said she uses a number of strategies to attract and retain talent, such as identifying their short- and long-term goals, as well as being present and engaging with employees.

“As owners, we take it upon ourselves to support and propel their aspirations forward,” she said. “Regular check-ins every couple of months allow us to stay connected and address any concerns proactively. By demonstrating genuine care and concern for our employees’ well-being and career development, we foster a culture where they feel valued and supported, ultimately encouraging them to stay with us.”

For Andrea Couture, owner of Intra-State Terrazo & Concrete and Shaffer’s Irrigation, it’s all about using a multifaceted strategy: “One unconventional approach we have adopted is the implementation of flexible work arrangements tailored to accommodate diverse lifestyles and personal commitments. By offering options such as remote work, flexible hours and job-sharing opportunities, we ensure that talented individuals, regardless of gender, can thrive in our organization while maintaining a healthy work/life balance.”

The bottom line for many women as far as advancing their career in the industry, said Todd, is the need for more male sponsorship.

“Compared to men in construction, women are afforded fewer opportunities due to lack of sponsorship,” Todd said. “So, while access exists, the male championship needed remains a pressing question.”

Shreesha Ramdas, CEO and founder of Lumber, agrees: “In unveiling the report, we’re not just shedding light on the challenges faced by women in construction; we’re igniting a conversation and catalyzing action toward a more inclusive, equitable industry.”

John Caravella, Esq

John Caravella Esq., is a construction attorney and formerly practicing project architect at The Law Office of John Caravella, P.C., representing architects, engineers, contractors, subcontractors, and owners in all phases of contract preparation, litigation, and arbitration across New York and Florida. He also serves as an arbitrator to the American Arbitration Association Construction Industry Panel. Mr. Caravella can be reached by email: [email protected] or (631) 608-1346.

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