Residential construction has often been regarded as an industry unwelcoming to women, but professional organizations are working to tear down these barriers.
The residential construction industry provides a rewarding career path for women and plenty of opportunities as well. A recent study by SmartAsset notes that “construction laborer” is the second-fastest growing occupation in the United States, with 40 percent growth in female employees from 2014 to 2018.
Still, some may overlook opportunities in construction trades because they don’t view them as jobs for women. A barrier that many in the industry are trying to push through is the belief that construction is a male-dominated job, so women are less likely to pursue it.
There are many programs available in local communities for women who are interested in a job in the residential construction industry. For example, the Home Builders Institute (HBI) has training programs that are national in scope but implemented locally. Through certification programs, pre-apprenticeship training, and job placement services, HBI prepares individuals with the skills and experience they need for careers in the building industry.
Women make up about half of the workforce in the United States, and there is ample opportunity to explore all trades, especially amid an industry labor shortage. In addition to the variety of work and opportunities available, there are four key reasons women should consider work in the construction industry.
On average, women in the United States earn 80 cents for every dollar a man earns. However, the gap is much smaller in the construction trades. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women in the construction industry earn 97 cents for every dollar a man earns.
Funding is available for students who are interested in or currently pursuing opportunities in residential construction. The National Housing Endowment offers several scholarships and the American Council for Construction Education has resources available for students interested in teaching opportunities in the field.
Network of experts
There is a growing community of women in construction who are willing to mentor and share insights with women entering the field. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) has a strong network of women who work at every level of the residential construction industry through its Professional Women in Building (PWB) Council.
A sense of accomplishment
Working in the trades brings a sense of satisfaction completing high-quality work and helping construct new homes. Darylene Dennon, the first tradeswoman to chair the NAHB PWB Council, highlighted the benefits of being a woman in the trades. “I was raised to think that if you do a good job, people will appreciate it. And always learn a trade. You can do a trade anywhere. When I was in the field, I didn’t think of myself as unequal,” she said.