Representation of Women in the Construction Industry
The growth of women in the construction industry - specifically within the field - has been on a steady increase since 2016. The Washington Post found that currently, women make up 14% of the construction industry workforce. Why has it taken until now for women to have a prominent role in the construction world?
The recent years' growth could be attributed in part to the industry’s ongoing high demand for workers. As the construction workforce gets older and younger people forgo entering the trades, the shortage of skilled labor means companies are turning to a different approach in recruiting.
So why is it that labor shortages may actually benefit women? An article from The Post called on experts and advocates for women in the trades, who shared that the reason for this could be attributed to the extra work it takes to hire women, due to lack of experience and unfamiliarity with the industry as a whole.
“Employers maybe have to search a little harder when the labor market gets tighter in the expansionary times,” said Elise Gould, a senior economist at the nonprofit Economic Policy Institute, “and then exercise less discretion — perhaps less discrimination — in who they’re hiring.”
Attracting & Maintaining Women in the Construction Field
Over the course of the last 15 years, efforts from labor groups have worked to increase the number of skilled tradeswomen in the field, as the industry’s need for a greater supply of craftspeople grows. To help break down obstacles women face in the world of construction, employers and labor groups are contributing to the lower barrier to entry for women in construction, as there is a bigger push now more than ever for further representation of women in a previously male-dominated field.
Companies are focusing on initiatives such as diversity and inclusion training, women’s construction associations, and community engagement to encourage women to enter the construction industry.
The Future of Women in Construction: Bridging the Gap
At J.R. Vinagro, we are working together to help bridge the gap for the future of women in the construction industry. A few of the ways that we do this include:
- Ensuring equal pay and benefits
- Providing flexibility in working hours
- Offering on and offsite training and continued education
- Providing equal growth opportunities
- Staying committed to diversity
- Promoting inclusive job postings
- Pushing for recruitment and awareness campaigns that highlight women in the industry
- Creating custom-fit roles for women both in the field and in the office
- Connecting women through networking/organizations that highlight women in the industry (ie: NAIWC & Professional Women in Construction PWC)
- Creating an intentionally inclusive environment that fosters support from colleagues
Brianna Langford: Accepting the Challenge
For Brianna Langford, Dispatch Coordinator at J.R. Vinagro, the construction industry was one she felt right at home in. “I grew up around a few family-owned construction businesses, fueled by my dad’s passion. I was always riding shotgun, in work boots, climbing dirt piles, digging with my mini shovel, and amazed by the trucks and excavators. I was constantly watching and observing trying to grasp the process. There is so much more to it than breaking ground. I was specifically attracted to JRV because they do it all, start to finish, beginning to end. There’s a team of people, consistent movement, and several different divisions. This was a way I could see it all and no way I could be bored. And, till this day I am not,” says Langford.
With 7 years at J.R. Vinagro under her belt, two of the most important things that have helped Brianna grow into her construction career at the company are time and teachers.
"Once you prove your worth with time, you gain incredible respect and value. We are all here to get the job done. I am beyond grateful to have been given the opportunity to work alongside the incredible men at J.R. Vinagro. They’ve truly shaped me into who I am and what I know today. It takes a strong-minded person to want to be in this industry, and if you don’t think you are strong now, you will be."
"With this, I think stereotypes towards females involved in construction need to be knocked down and proven wrong. A lot of us are underestimated in what we are capable of and what we bring to the table. I believe more empowerment and promotion should take place to welcome more women in this industry comfortably. This will help women gain confidence and allow no shame for us wanting to join or be a part of this career equally."
Q&A with Brianna
What are some of the biggest challenges you've faced?Some obstacles I have faced were being young and being a woman. It left me overlooked quite often. Not everyone takes you seriously, for better or worse. Which can leave you shy or scared to speak, but you must show your confidence.
What would you tell young women interested in the construction industry?If I had to say something to a young woman interested in construction, I'd say know that it will be far from easy, and this is more than just a job. It’s a lifestyle, and it will consume more time than you plan for, however, it is immensely rewarding.
Is there anything you wish you'd known before starting your career?One thing I wish I'd known is that it's okay to not know everything because even the smartest person in the room still doesn’t know everything. No question is a bad one, and you can never ask too many questions.
Don’t be scared to learn anything you can. It’s endless out here. Just be ready to think!
Our Team in Action
We’re at our best in the field, working together and with our partners to find creative solutions to complex project challenges. Here are some recent examples of our work: