Research Highlights Benefits of Women in Construction

March 7, 2023

A new white paper from The National Center for Construction Education & Research (NCCER) aims to highlight the unique benefits women bring to the construction craft workforce, the obstacles they encounter joining and staying in the industry, and their advice on what contractors can do to recruit and retain more women in the craft workforce.

NCCER conducted interviews with 176 tradeswomen and analyzed 770 responses to a survey directed to women in the industry. The results have been compiled into a white paper, “In Her Own Words: Improving Project Outcomes.”

“The U.S. economy is at a critical juncture,” said Boyd Worsham, CEO, in a statement. “We need to re-shore manufacturing, decarbonize energy, and upgrade our infrastructure. As we continue to struggle in building a workforce to fulfil these needs, we must recognize that we are not effectively appealing to the largest percentage of the population—women—in our recruiting and retention efforts.”

Both the women themselves and the management teams that were involved in separate focus groups agreed on the unique qualities women bring to job sites that improve project outcomes, according to NCCER. One of these qualities is their focus on following the prescribed work process as designed instead of relying on physical strength and experience.

“Women are role model workers,” the report quotes one participant. “They want to work safely. They follow process and procedure. Generally, I find that [women adhere] better to compliance and HSE process and procedures.”

Some of the recommendations on how to better recruit and retain women included addressing harassment and discrimination, and accommodations for working mothers. One in four tradeswomen responding to the survey reported facing disciplinary action for missing work to tend to family emergencies. On the other hand, only 4 percent of women in managerial, administrative, and technical positions reported being disciplined for missing work for similar reasons, according to NCCER.

“Regarding women simply as a way to make up for the quantity gap in the construction workforce ignores the unique qualities they bring to the job site,” said Dr. Tim Taylor, director of research, in a statement.

Women also shared their recommendations on how to better recruit and retain women on project sites and, ultimately, in the industry. They provided guidance on how to tackle obstacles that the industry has worked on for years and brought up other hurdles that may be surprising for some.

“With an expected shortage of 1.9 million craft professionals through 2025, there is tremendous opportunity for women to get involved in an industry that offers competitive wages, benefits, and career growth,” said Jennifer Wilkerson, VP of innovation and advancement, in a statement. “If we want construction careers to be a viable option for all people, we have to change the culture and perception of our industry, starting with our own projects.”

Read the report. 

Source: National Center for Construction Education & Research

About the Author

Rod Sutton

Sutton has served as the editorial lead of Construction Equipment magazine and since 2001. 

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