Breaking down the pay gap between construction women and men

Support for construction women in the industry has been growing for decades – but where has that left the breakdown of the number of influential women in the industry and what they’re getting paid in relation to their male counterparts? Thanks to the voices of women across all industries, there is much more transparency on reported earnings between men and women. Here, we dive into the conversation of whether a pay gap exists between construction women and men, what that discrepancy may be, and how construction women in the industry feel about the current state of women in construction.

Breakdown of industry jobs held by construction women
Currently, although an improvement from previous generations, the percentage of construction women within the industry as a whole has hovered around nine to ten percent. While it may not seem like an exciting number on paper, there is an encouraging number of construction women in critical roles ranging from project managers all the way to CEO’s. According to NAWIC’s own research, of the over one million construction women working today:

  • 44% of construction women are in professional or management roles.
  • 28% of construction women are in sales or office roles.
  • 21% of construction women are in service-related roles.
  • 6% of construction women are in production, transportation, or material moving roles.
  • 1% of construction women are in natural resource, maintenance, and construction trade roles.

As construction is a vast industry that ebbs and flows based on supply and demand, the tracking of these numbers isn’t a perfect science. And construction women have seen these numbers grow over the years in unexpected ways as well. Here are a few more statistics that cover the growth of construction women in the industry.

  • There was a 64% increase in construction women working as maintenance painters between 2014 and 2019.
  • In this same time period, the industry saw a 50% increase in female construction laborers.
  • Women currently own roughly 13% of construction firms, with 9% of these firms grossing over half a million dollars in annual revenue.

The pay gap reality between construction women and men
Across all industries there is a pay gap between men and women, which sits at an average of 10%. The construction industry has one of the smallest pay gaps between women and men. Still, a few notable gaps do exist in several areas of the industry.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that:

  • Construction women in managerial roles made only 86 cents to the dollar that men earned in 2020, resulting in a difference of $11,336 for earnings on the same position.
  • Construction women working in installation, maintenance, or repair occupations saw their pay gap widen by 12 cents since 2011, bringing the total to 81 cents on the dollar compared to men.
  • Construction women in the general field of construction made 74 cents to the dollar in 2020 as compared to men, resulting in a difference of $12,220 for annual earnings.
  • Construction women in architectural and engineering management positions also received a mere 78 cents to the dollar men earned in 2020.

How construction women feel about the pay gap – and the gender gap in construction roles
We attribute the leveling of the playing field to associations like NAWIC for supporting construction women who demand what they’re worth and for encouraging change through diversity, equity, and inclusion training. But we know there’s a long way to go before there is true equality in both representation and pay for construction women. Many construction women, however, have reported being less concerned of a change in pay on the jobsite and more focused on gaining an equal amount of respect from their male colleagues.

A 2021 survey showed that the number one challenge for construction women in the industry today is feeling respected. One subcontractor in the study is quoted as saying, “The most challenging part of working in the construction industry as a woman is earning the same amount/an ounce of respect men get for doing the same thing.” The survey also noted that 80% of construction women surveyed felt that their coworkers respected women but only 65% noted that leadership within their companies listened to construction women and men equally.

How to learn more about NAWIC’s mission to support construction women
With the addition of a dedicated diversity, equity, and inclusion training committee, NAWIC is confident that the gaps between construction women and men can begin to close. And while membership is only open to construction women within the industry, men are always welcome at any conferences and events to show support and to learn from female colleagues.

The National Association of Women in Construction now has over 117 local chapters across the United States, which makes it very easy for female builders to connect with our network of professionals. Membership is open to all construction women and NAWIC is able to provide members with amazing resources to help them gain confidence in their abilities and develop more leadership skills. Any female builders interested in becoming a NAWIC member can apply for membership by using either the online form or downloadable application to fill out and mail in – both of which are available on the NAWIC website. There are also several membership options available with flexible pricing and membership terms. To learn more about the female builders and powerful construction women involved in NAWIC or if you have any questions about membership, contact us through our social media pages.