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Creating Inclusive Environments For Women In Construction

Women in Construction

Women can be useful even in a male-dominated industry. Make her take over the construction scheduling software tasks or leading the whole construction process. Find out here what else a woman can do and how to include her in a construction project.

          The construction industry is many things. It employs over ten million, six hundred thousand people across the United States. The industry generates one and a quarter trillion dollars a year in sales. Fifty-four percent of all construction companies invest in research and development. And yet, for such a gigantic industry, for one that strives to constantly move into the future, the construction industry also has a known problem. Women. Women make up 47% of the workforce of the United States. Yet they represent only a mere 9% of the construction industry. Why?

            It is true to some extent that the industry as a whole demands long and unpredictable working hours in unpredictable weather, requires massive strength, dedication, and motivation. These are the traits our society continues to link with men. Strength and the ability to adapt quickly are male-dominated skills. But is this actually true? Women lead United States Infantry Divisions. They have served in open combat in Iraq, Afghanistan. Received Silver Stars for combat gallantry. A US Army study noted that intermixed tank crews perform 69% better than tank crews comprised of only men. So much for the idea that women aren’t strong, aren’t dedicated, or are fragile. 

            So what is it that keeps women from entering the construction industry workforce? Why don’t they feel confident in being in a hostile work environment where expectations are set higher for them than their counterparts? In an industry where some people still think that women can’t perform construction tasks as efficiently as men? Could it be that the issue is with the industry, and not with them?

             Fortunately, there are women who are not afraid to make waves. Take Jacqueline Hinman as an example. She is a civil engineer who showed confidence and bravery as she stood up to a culture of hostility in the early years of her career as the only woman working in the company at the job site. She even became the CEO of  CH2M Hill, an engineering company where she continues to advocate for the advancement of women in the construction industry. 

              It is not shocking that most women don’t show interest in working for jobs where they have put in twice as much effort to show to their male coworkers, that they can also do what men can. Women strive hard to prove that they are capable of doing their jobs despite the stereotype that comes with the female gender.

According to experts, the two main barriers to a stronger representation of females in the construction industry are a lack of women role models and harassment. But there are solutions, changes that can be implemented to create environments that are more inclusive. Why exclude 50% of the workforce? 

Female Contractor

Steps to Create More Inclusive Environments for Women in Construction

1. Raise awareness

 

The reason why harassment is so prevalent against women in construction isn’t that men are misogynistic by nature. It’s because of awareness. Or better said, a lack of it. It’s not enough to continue behaviors because “everyone else does it” or “because that’s just how it has always been.” Construction prides itself on adopting advances, strives to be at the cutting edge. And yet, so many of us ignore that we fail to lead on this subject. Awareness of what happens in the industry, of how we treat women in the workforce is the first step. You cannot solve an issue if you are not able to recognize that the issue exists. Recognition leads to awareness. Awareness leads to actually doing something about the problem. 

2. Make Sure Hiring Practices are Fair

 

Whether we like it or not, it is true that there are still some people who are biased by not giving equal treatment or chance when it comes to women’s applications during the hiring process. Going back to step one, awareness of the issue will lead to changing for the better. Discuss your company’s hiring practices with the managers who actually make the decisions regarding employee acquisition. Consider implanting a blind resume panel in which the hiring manager or company hiring representatives will go through resumes but won’t see the name on the application. 

3. Respect the abilities of  female co-workers

 

For your women co-workers to feel more comfortable in the workplace, it is important their male colleagues accept and respect that they have abilities and are valuable to the company. as well. A woman will not work in the construction industry, will not toil under the sun’s heat, beneath harsh weather, in uncomfortable, dirty clothes if she’s not passionate: About what she’s doing, about her abilities. 

Women can do whatever men can. If she’s next to you, working, she deserves your respect, not your condescension.

Besides, there are a lot of roles a woman can hold in a construction project. While she can’t be a laborer, she can manage a whole project as a construction project manager. Thanks to technology like construction project management software, PMs are no longer required to make daily rounds in the construction area. Instructions and task dissemination can now be done via the cloud so women who has strong management skills and construction knowledge can now take on the role of being a PM.

Another task she can take is being a construction project manager’s assistant and secretary. PM’s can feel overwhelmed with the volume of tasks he needs to handle. Having an assistant who can take the job of documentation can take away a big burden from his shoulders, allowing him to focus on more important matters.

Women are known for their flexibility and ability to quickly adjust no matter what their work environment is. So taking over scheduling and communication tasks via construction scheduling software like Pro Crew Schedule will be the perfect work for them in the construction industry.

4. Don’t hesitate to ask women questions

 

In the worksite, male construction workers often don’t know how to treat their women co-workers. Should they treat them as one of the guys? Should they be careful with what they do and say? Instead of guessing, there is a better alternative. Ask them. You’ll be surprised at how much they’ll appreciate the gesture. The truth is, women are just people. Like everyone else, if they feel like they’re being treated differently, they will feel like they don’t belong. Ask them if there’s anything that makes them uncomfortable. When they tell you, listen. Same thing you would do for anyone else.  

5. Speak up when you’re discriminated or harassed

 

Men aren’t the only ones responsible for improving the work environment for women. Women have the responsibility to take part in it as well. Teach people how to treat you. Stand up if you feel excluded, harassed, or discriminated, don’t allow these things to happen. If you do, then nothing will change. Report to the HR department or to the superiors when these things occur. Know that you are not only doing this for yourself but for other women as well. 

6. Don’t let sexism keep you from improving

 

If you are really passionate about being in the construction industry, then do not let sexism keep them from improving and advancing in the industry. Push through. Get into the position or leadership role that you desire. Make it happen. Nothing will change if you don’t.

7. Keep Moving Forward

 

Women should realize that their actions and choices not only change their own lives but also the lives of the next generation of women coming up behind them. Not just professionals in the construction industry, but in every industry.

What will instigate permanent change are women who want to make a change, who will fight for change and carry those changes through the 21st century and into the 22nd. Women are taking more leadership roles in business. It’s time for that to cross over into the construction industry, to help propel our businesses forward.

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