Workforce

How Men Can Support Women in Construction

The construction industry has come a long way in how men and women work together to be successful. However, there is always room to evolve the relationship between colleagues.
By Cheryl Black
June 15, 2021
Topics
Workforce

The construction industry has come a long way in how men and women work together to be successful. However, there is always room to evolve the relationship between colleagues.

In fact, in a male-dominated field, efforts to make improvements are more important than ever—especially as more women choose to build their careers in the industry. Men can play a meaningful role in mentoring and supporting their female coworkers and driving real change in the workplace.

Diversify your perspective

It’s vital to recognize that there is value in having female colleagues in the construction industry. Everyone brings a different perspective to problem solving and project development. Women often offer a different set of critical thinking skills and their insights are valued in an inclusive workplace. Having a different perspective can help expedite a project, solve an issue or generate new ideas. And as with any interaction among colleagues, it’s a two-way street. Women and men alike need to be receptive to other viewpoints. Doing so allows both to build on one another’s strengths.

Recognize the value of empathy

According to a study by Cambridge University researchers, women, on average, have a greater tendency toward empathy—63% compared to 53% for men. This is a positive attribute to a collaborative team culture. Empathy brings diversity of thought that can help team members understand each other better and open up lines of communication. This attribute can also be key to building relationships and understanding customer needs. Empathy helps breakdown barriers in the industry and drive further change.

Be advocates

All coworkers should advocate for one another and for themselves. This means recognizing skills and fostering growth in a way that is best for both the individuals and the team. An impactful leader knows their team well enough to ensure they are represented accurately and fairly, and that they are working together toward common goals. Male leaders and male team members throughout the organizational hierarchy advocating for their female colleagues with other male coworkers is important. It comes down to support, relationship building, and creating a robust and diverse workforce. Advocating for each other can help grow skills all around.

Focus on inclusion and equity

As a critical starting point, many companies focus on implementing recruiting and hiring practices to ensure women have the opportunity to join the construction industry. But what happens when employment begins? Just because a team has several women on it, doesn’t mean that it is inclusive. To be inclusive requires leveraging the talents and perspectives of all members of the team to create an equitable workplace—and making sure everyone is comfortable sharing their unique perspectives and strengths. Focus on action—what can men and women do to collaborate to reach a shared outcome? Keep in mind that everyone has different ways of learning, so providing equal footing for that collaboration should be a consideration. Some team members may need resources specific to them to reach the common goal.

Consider MARC

There are many resources available for men who want to change the discussion around women in the construction industry and in the workplace. For example, Catalyst.org offers a wide range of services, research and seminars. Men Advocating Real Change, for example, is a one-day seminar offered by Catalyst for men who are interested in how they can advocate for equity.

Putting it all together

In the end, men supporting women in construction is about communication, listening and learning. There needs to be open dialogue with other men about the value their female counterparts bring to the industry and the ways to support them. Positive changes have already been made in recent years as more women enter the field, but there is more work to be done. Men in this industry should take the time to look for opportunities to provide mentorship, and women should proactively seek out mentors for themselves. These partnerships can be mutually beneficial in growing careers and contributing positively to changing the conversation around gender in the construction industry.

by Cheryl Black

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