Alabama Sees a Rise in Women in Construction

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Alabama Sees a Rise in Women in Construction

Construction has long been a male-dominated industry. Sure, there have always been some women working for construction companies, but primarily in an administrative capacity. Until relatively recently, very few women were engaged in the construction trades. 

According to the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) and a recent study by Today’s Home Owner, that situation appears to be changing, at least in the South. Specifically, the number of women in construction trades is increasing in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. 

Nationwide, only 3.3% of construction trade workers are women. In South Carolina, 4.76% of construction trade workers are women, and in the other states, the percentage of women doing construction work is now 3.85%. In this blog, we’ll take a look at why this might be happening and how it will be a good thing for construction overall. 

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What Construction Work Offers Women 

Construction trade work offers some real advantages to women. The opportunities are there. The ongoing push for gender equality in the workplace is making an impact in traditionally male-dominated fields, and many construction companies are actively seeking to diversify their workforce and provide equal opportunities for women. Some of the other benefits of encouraging women to enter the construction trade are: 

  • Stable employment and job security—With the increase in infrastructure development and maintenance projects, there’s a consistent demand for skilled workers in the construction industry. 
  • Competitive pay—Skilled construction workers, regardless of gender, can earn competitive wages. Many trade jobs offer opportunities for advancement and higher pay as workers gain experience and expertise. 
  • Skills development and training—Women can learn valuable trade skills that are in demand, such as carpentry, electrical work, plumbing, and welding, which can lead to long-term career growth and job satisfaction. 
  • Physical and mental health benefits—Construction work usually involves physical activity, which can contribute to better physical health and fitness. Additionally, the sense of accomplishment and pride that comes from building something tangible can positively impact mental well-being. 
  • Entrepreneurial opportunities—Some women in construction choose to start their own businesses, becoming contractors, project managers, or consultants. Entrepreneurial ventures in construction can provide independence, flexibility, and the potential for significant financial rewards. 
  • Contribution to communities—Construction projects play a crucial role in building and maintaining communities. Women in construction have the opportunity to contribute to the development of infrastructure, affordable housing, schools, hospitals, and other essential facilities that benefit society as a whole. Being part of that can be very fulfilling. 
  • Breaking stereotypes—By entering and excelling in construction trades, women challenge traditional gender stereotypes and inspire future generations of girls to pursue careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields and other male-dominated industries. 

The Gender Pay Gap in Construction 

The good news is that the gender pay gap in the construction trades is smaller than it is in many other industries. On average, women in construction earn approximately 95.5% of what their male counterparts make, according to NAWIC. This is significantly higher than the average across all industries, where women earn about 82.9% of men’s wages.

Industry-wide factors contributing to the gender pay gap in construction include occupational segregation, discrimination, women’s lack of access to training and advancement opportunities, and disparities in negotiating salaries and promotions. On an individual basis, factors such as location, specific trade, level of experience, and employer practices come into play.

Efforts to address the pay gap in construction include promoting pay transparency, implementing equal pay policies, providing mentorship and training programs for women in trades, and fostering inclusive workplace cultures that value diversity and equity. 

While progress has been made in recent years to reduce the gender pay gap and increase women’s representation in construction trades, achieving full pay equity and gender parity in the industry remains an ongoing challenge that requires continued attention and action from employers, policymakers, and other stakeholders. 

Overall, while there may still be challenges and barriers to overcome, the construction industry offers numerous advantages and opportunities for women seeking rewarding careers in skilled trades. 

How Women Can Get into Construction Trades 

Women enter the construction trades through a variety of pathways. Here are some of the common routes: 

  • Trade Schools offering hands-on training and education in specific trades such as carpentry, plumbing, electrical work, and more 
  • Apprenticeships, often sponsored by unions or trade associations, providing on-the-job training alongside classroom instruction 
  • Vocational training programs offered by community colleges or specialized training centers that provide technical skills and certifications needed to work in various construction trades 
  • Experience gained through military service in construction-related roles 
  • Workforce development programs sponsored by various government and non-profit organizations aimed at encouraging women to enter the construction industry 
  • Union Training Programs offering comprehensive training and opportunities for advancement within the union 
  • High school technical or vocational education providing basic skills that can be further developed through post-secondary education and training 
  • Personal connections and family involvement in the construction industry 

Overall, a combination of education, training, and support from various programs and organizations can help women enter and thrive in the construction trades. 

Women in Construction

As the construction industry grows, the rise of women in construction, especially in the South, shows a positive shift towards inclusion and diversity. It’s certainly encouraging to see so many women in states like Alabama joining the trades and challenging traditional gender roles. This trend will lead to more stable employment, better pay, and a fresh perspective on the industry. 

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