When you drive by a new subdivision or housing project, the majority of people working there are men. For long, construction has been a male-dominated industry. Dating back hundreds of years, men have largely been the ones working in the fields while the women stayed home and took care of the house.

Today, that is still largely true. Men still dominate the building houses business while women dominate the “turning houses into homes” business. Currently, less than 10% of those in the construction business are women. Is that going to be a constant statistic or are we set for a change?

The short answer is: we don’t know. Construction is an ever-growing business that is set to face a worker’s shortage over the next 15 years. Unlike other job sectors, there has actually been a decline of women in construction over the last decade.

Is construction something you’re interested in? Would you like to break into the field?

Education

When it comes to studying to work in the construction industry, the majority of people follow the STEM path, or something similar to construction management or concrete management. While you’re likely to find STEM courses at just about every university around, finding more specific construction-based degrees is more challenging.

Breaking into construction starts at the bottom: these academic careers are still male-dominated. It is difficult to break into any male-dominated field, as you’re likely to experience sexism and a wage gap in the industry.

More than Hammer and Nails

When you read the title, you might have thought construction mainly applied to those out on the construction site, hammering down 2X4s or fixing up the roof. Construction is much more than what you may see driving by that new neighborhood.

In fact, the majority of women in construction work in the office or management roles. With advances in technology, more and more management roles in construction will involve off-site analysis.

The Downsides

Every job comes with its negative side, and construction is no different. Starting with the obvious, there is going to be clear gender bias for many starting in this role. While the number of women in construction is few, you may be likely to face bias from your peers and clients in any cases.

Working in the field also presents a higher injury risk for women, who may not be able to operate a lot of the machinery that was designed with men in mind.

Lastly, with so few women in the field, you may find it hard to find a proper mentor or leader.

So Why Start at All?

Just like any field, diversity is a great asset. You’re likely to join a team of people who all have had various backgrounds and careers up to that point, meaning that you’ll be to pitch something others haven’t thought about. Maybe no one has thought of those cost-cutting moves or looked into adding monitoring drones.

With construction expected to face a labor gap over the next 15 years, more and more leadership jobs will open as well. Construction has high-earning potential, especially those management jobs.

It’s also a job that provides a lot of practical experience, from team building, logistics, customer relations, complex project management, negotiation, hiring others and working with new technology.

In addition, there’s nothing quite like building a house from the ground up. That sense of accomplishment is second to none.

Leading Other Women

It’s always hard to be the first one to jump in, so consider this an opportunity to really shine as a leader. Construction doesn’t have to be a male-dominated industry, and you can be part of the new wave to really help spur the industry forward.

If you’re looking for motivation, you can follow a few women who have advanced to become CEOs of construction companies. Kim Roy is the CEO of HITT, having been in the position for nearly a year with 20 months of construction experience.

Kylie Rampa has been the CEO of Lendlease’s Australia division for over two years now. All of these women have varied backgrounds and experience, meaning there’s more than one way to reach the top of the construction world.

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