The Top Resources for Women in Construction
No doubt, as you drive down the road or walk past a construction site these days, you’ve noticed a significantly noticeable prevalence of women in hard hats over the years. Today, more and more women are entering the industry, doing everything from operating heavy machinery to perfecting their craft and overseeing jobsites to managing enterprise construction companies.
However, while women comprise around 47% of the total U.S. labor force, they are underrepresented in the construction industry. In fact, a shockingly small percentage, 9%, of the construction workforce is female.
However, there is some more promising news; the presence of women in construction is growing. A significant contributing factor to this influx of female talent is due to the phenomenal efforts of many organizations, companies and individuals.
Last year, for Women in Construction Week, we published an infographic about the need for more women (and better policies) in construction. While the infographic is very much still worth a look, this year, we wanted to flip the spotlight on the many positive and outstanding initiatives supporting females in construction.
If you’re seeking resources for women in construction, whether as a female worker yourself, or a male or female manager with women on your team, you’ll find them here, below. From general industry support to supporting the young and upcoming generations of women in construction, here are 15 amazing initiatives that outstanding companies, organizations and associations are rallying behind to build a better workforce for all.
Resources Providing General Industry Support for Women in Construction
Founded in 1953 in Fort Worth, Texas, the National Association of Women in Construction (or NAWIC) has been one of the most influential and most extensive resources for women in construction for more than 60 years. The organization now holds a large annual conference, supports scholarships and supports programs for promising women in building. It has several chapters across the country, making it accessible to a wide range of workers.
If shattering the glass ceiling is on your personal bucket list, or a goal for your company or workers, the Women in Construction Summit is a shoo-in event. It’s London’s premier event for women in construction, a day designed as a platform for leaders and aspiring professionals. With a variety of speakers sharing personal stories and industry insights, it’s one of the most empowering resources for women in construction.
For nearly 40 years, Professional Women in Construction has sought to bolster women in their pursuit of careers in what has mostly been a man’s world. To that end, PWC takes as its “mission is to support, advance, and connect women and promote diversity within the architecture, engineering, construction, (AEC) and related industries.” Founded in 1980, the organization has chapters in major metro areas across throughout the Eastern U.S. including New York, Boston, Connecticut, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. Today, it’s one of the most far-reaching resources for women in construction.
Resources Fostering Female Leaders in Construction
WCOE seeks to do more than help women working in construction; it wants to put the reins in their hands. The goal of this organization is to create leadership opportunities for women in owner and executive roles, influence legislation governing their roles and bolster female-owned companies.
Put on by ENR and designed for current and future female leaders in construction, Groundbreaking Women in Construction (GWIC) is a fantastic resource for women in construction. It’s more than just a conference, according to its website. It is a true agent for change, offering inspiration, influence and career growth potential. Today, “GWIC has grown into one of the construction industry’s premier leadership and talent management events for industry members.”
Resources Supporting Women in the Trades
Recently, the large national subcontractor, TD Industries, partnered with United Way THRIVE to pilot a program, which helped train women to become sheet metal technicians. These women come from all walks of life but now look forward to thriving and financially freeing careers as construction workers. Interested in learning more? Watch the video below:
“In 2013, a group of outstanding women from Southern California construction companies and related fields joined together to start a group geared towards mentoring women working in the operation side of construction,” explains Women in Construction Operations (WIOPS). Today, they offer resources for women in construction ranging from general contractors, subcontractors, engineers and architects, owner’s reps and construction management personnel.
8. Sheet Metal & Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA) – Women in Construction Leadership Council
When it comes to resources for women in construction, the Sheet Metal & Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association or SMACNA offers a powerful one. This large association has been influential in supporting women in the trades. Their women’s council puts on large national events and participates in conferences and sessions, helping current and future workers navigate the construction industry and advance their careers more effectively.
As their website explains, “Women In NECA was established to provide a collaborative forum for women affiliated with NECA-member companies, chapters and LMCCs.” The goal of this initiative is to enhance professional development for women, promote diversity (both by encouraging women in their work, as well as encouraging women of all backgrounds), and inform future professionals about possible job opportunities in the industry.
Women-founded, women-owned and women-oriented, WIST is one of the most powerful resources for women in construction. Helmed by Tori Menold from SiteAware and Carol Cool from Infrastructure and Planning Services at Michigan State University, this Michigan-based program serves single moms who’d like to join a trade. With educational events, apprenticeship preparation programs and more, it’s an incredible opportunity for women who haven’t yet had many.
A regional provider of resources for women in construction, CWIT was founded in 1981 and is on a mission to see that all women succeed in the industry. Prioritizing equal access to education, information and jobs, they run unique programs such as the Technical Opportunities Program and Women in Welding Program, as well as provides leadership development and technical assistance.
Solar jobs are gaining importance and popularity in the construction industry, and the rising opportunity goes hand in hand. Of the top 13 careers in construction, solar photovoltaic installers sits near the top of the list. The Woman in Solar Program capitalizes on this with their National Women in Solar Initiative, born in 2014. Their goals: to increase gender diversity, offer professional development opportunities and connect women workers and leaders across the solar industry.
Inspiring the Future Generations of Female Workers
Not all resources for women in construction need start at the career level. The National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) summer camp believes it’s never too early to draw young girls into the construction trade. Each year, the San Diego chapter hosts a camp for two dozen high school girls, where participants get to learn more about the trades and work on a real construction project. Even better, “Participants who have gone through at least two years of camp can apply to be the project superintendent and receive a $500 stipend at the end of camp.”
Individual companies can make a huge difference in supporting women in construction. Take Miron Construction, which hosts a free annual event for women in the 7th-10th grades. With a full day of hands-on construction experience and learning, as well as detailed information about industry opportunity, the event seeks to inspire young girls in time to steer them toward the field. Learn more by watching the video below:
15. Tools and Tiaras
Even the very youngest girls deserve exposure to this unique, challenging and growing field of construction. A nonprofit organization that encourages young women in the Mechanical, Industrial, Technical, Trades (MITT) industries, “Tools and Tiaras Inc is committed to advancing the interest of young girls and women who want to pursue non-traditional careers.” The organization connects community members in providing information, mentorship and opportunities to these young women. By “providing the support needed at all stages of their journey,” they offer girls a chance to transform their later lives and careers.
The Takeaway: We Need More Women in Construction Today!
“We need women” is more than an empty-minded, gender-equal rallying cry. Science is unequivocal that women offer major benefits to companies that seek them out. According to Scientific American, for instance, “Male brains have more connections within hemispheres to optimize motor skills, whereas female brains are more connected between hemispheres to combine analytical and intuitive thinking.”
We need more balanced jobsites. With a shortage of skilled labor and more data than ever before to slice, dice and splice, we require both the brains and brawn that more women in construction can offer. Luckily, there are plenty of opportunities to get involved, but it’s up to companies and individuals to take them.
This Women in Construction week, let’s band together to provide both jobs and resources for women in construction–and reap the benefits of today’s actions in a bright tomorrow.