Workforce

Why Construction Companies Need to Hire Women

Women just might save the day for the struggling construction industry. Here’s how.
By Arthur Langer
September 7, 2018
Topics
Workforce

The construction industry is floundering. Despite construction spending peaking at $1 trillion in November 2017, companies are unable to meet the high demand because they don’t have enough workers. Another challenge is that the demographics of the client population are evolving and becoming more diverse, which means traditional, homogenous companies in the industry need to evolve as well to adequately address their clients’ needs. However, one fix might hammer down the success of the industry: hiring more women.

An influx of female workers would meet the industry’s demand

The United States is in the midst of a skilled labor shortage—employers are having difficulty recruiting for the record-high number of 6.7 million jobs are available, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports—and construction is one of the industries that’s suffering the most. More than 90 percent of contractors have been concerned over labor shortages for four consecutive quarters, according to the Q2 2018 USG Corporation + U.S. Chamber of Commerce Commercial Construction Index (Index). Companies can remedy this issue by recruiting women, who only make up 9 percent of construction workers, according to 2016 data from the BLS.

Women have much more to offer than just simply adding to a company’s headcount. Here are why women are the future of the construction industry.

Companies’ Client Pools Will Grow

By increasing the number of women on construction teams, companies will be positioned to generate more business because they’ll attract female clients who feel more at ease with a female client contact.

In addition, women in skilled trades have been found to be excellent multi-taskers, highly organized and have a more even-temperament than their male counterparts. That not only attracts more female clientele but also can be better for business as a whole.

Employing women will be especially lucrative since single women now make up a significant portion of home buyers, according to a 2017 report from the National Association of Realtors: More than twice as many single women are buying homes as single men are (18 percent versus 7 percent)—the largest group of home buyers after married couples (65 percent). That number is only expected to grow in the coming years since the United State has more single people than ever before: In 2012, one in five Americans ages 25 and older had never been married, compared to one in 10 adults in 1960, the Pew Research Center reported. Furthermore, in 2016, 110.6 million Americans ages 18 and older were unmarried, and 53.2 percent of them were women, according to the Census Bureau.

In short, to stay viable, construction companies need to learn to cater to the female population—and a surefire way to do that is to employ women.

Gender-inclusive teams inspire innovation for diverse client populations

Women bring a fresh point of view to construction ideas and building plans, enabling a company to serve a wider population. The industry’s client base is becoming increasingly more diverse, so future buildings have to be useful for diverse people as well. Gender-inclusive construction teams will have an easier time discerning those needs.

One example of how female input would have been extremely advantageous is in the design and construction of Broadway theaters in New York City. In February 2017, The New York Times published an article on the inhumanely long lines to the women’s restroom in theaters during intermission, while nearly no line existed for the men’s restroom. Theaters have introduced methods of crowd control, and some are even considering renovation to expand women’s restrooms—but if women had been consulted in the construction of the theaters a century ago, would the bathroom conundrum exist now? Likely not.

Women Get the Job Done—Well

Yes, women bring a different set of skills to construction than men do—but they also often outperform men as skilled workers. In recent years, more women have been enrolling in construction courses, according to Sourceable, and they often do better than their male counterparts. And although society has considered men to have a natural aptitude for construction, studies show that women are just as capable when it comes to spatial perception, manual dexterity, mathematical calculations and computer literacy, among other skills.

by Arthur Langer
Dr. Arthur Langer is Chairman and Founder of Workforce Opportunity Services (WOS), a leading 501(c)(3) nonprofit with a mission of developing the skills of untapped talent from underserved and veteran communities through partnerships with organizations dedicated to diversifying their workforce. Since its inception in 2005, WOS has partnered with companies such as Turner Construction, United Rentals, Lear Corporation, and EMJ Metals. For more information please visit www.wforce.org.

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