Although women are still a minority in the construction industry, they have been making strides. Many companies support women in roles like project manager, fieldworkers, and office administrators. However, women in the industry are having difficulty finding support from other women. Subcontractor companies can help women in the industry by providing support to help them find other women to connect with.
Support for women in construction: By the numbers
A recent survey of 1,001 women working in the construction industry, conducted by our friends at Levelset, showed that the majority felt that they were supported by the companies they work for:
- 81% said they have access to the technology they need to do their jobs
- 84% said their employers support professional training
The survey found, however, that there was room for improvement when it came to supporting mentorship and finding opportunities to network with other women in the industry. Two thirds of the respondents said they would like to have a mentor, but 45% said they didn’t have access to one. Opportunities to network with women in the industry are important, but 63% felt they didn’t have these chances. And a third said they didn’t feel supported by women in their workplace.
Finding and developing relationships with other women in the industry is key when working in a mostly male-dominated industry. There are situations and experiences that only other women understand, no matter how much men try.
Subcontractors who want to lead the charge for women in construction can do so by offering women a chance to meet with and develop relationships with other women in the industry. This can be done by supporting professional development opportunities, supporting networking with other women, and by supporting women-to-women mentoring programs.
Support women’s professional development
Employers and employees benefit from attending professional development events. Not only do they help companies stay up to date with the latest technologies and industry knowledge, but they are beneficial for employees’ personal development as well.
When attending in-person development events, women meet others who are in the industry, both men and women. This enables them to expand their network, as well as develop relationships that can help them with situations at work. As more events are going back to in-person meetings, it’s important that women have a chance to attend so they can develop new relationships. Women at all levels and positions, from receptionists to welders, can benefit from professional education opportunities.
Support women’s networking opportunities
Along with professional development events, subcontractors can support women participating in networking groups, especially those that are specially for women. There are groups that are specific to our industry, like union groups, trade groups, or the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC). Other professional groups women may enjoy include: local marketing groups, chambers of commerce, and charity boards or workgroups.
The key to getting the most out of membership in these groups is to participate. When women start to get involved in events, fundraisers, and other activities, they learn new skills, such as public speaking and leadership. They also benefit from talking to other women and getting involved in their community.
Support mentoring programs for women
Mentorship is key for women to gain the support they need, as well as challenging them to meet their career goals. “Mentorship is really a key part of the success of women in the industry,” said Anne Pfleger, President of the National Association of Women in Construction. “[Mentoring] can rejuvenate your career at any stage, it improves your personal productivity, it strengthens leadership skills, and it also increases career satisfaction.”
Employers can help women find appropriate mentors if they are having trouble finding them within their company. Employers can talk to women about their career goals, offer to help them find a mentor, support mentor meetings, and provide professional opportunities to help them meet their goals.
Supporting change in the industry
This recent survey by the Levelset team has shown that companies can do a lot to support women working in the construction industry, no matter what their position. Supporting networking, education, and mentoring programs directed to women helps them gain confidence in their work skills and advance in their careers. Thanks to supportive companies and others around them, women are well on their way to making their mark on the construction industry.