Women builders now make up 11% of the construction workforce according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, gender bias is still pervasive throughout the construction industry. Every day, women builders face discrimination and harassment from their (often older) male colleagues.
But times are changing and with it the mindset of men in construction. “While the labor shortage continues to challenge the construction industry, it also presents an opportunity for women and employers alike,” said Scott Wolfe, Jr., CEO of Levelset, A Procore Company. “The companies who embrace women and what they can bring to the table while focusing on major issues impacting the industry including gender equality and pay equity will be the winners in 2022.”
“Overall acceptance is part of the issue. Helping men see that their contribution is essential and needed. It’s not a women thing, it’s a people thing,” said Henry Nutt, the author of “7 Principles of Creating Success in the Construction Industry.” “There are certain strengths that women have. . . . Strategic thinking and taking complex ideas and making them manageable. Also being able to multi-task and create a game plan for a complicated situation. Making things simpler. Our industry has missed the people part of the equation and women help bring that back.”
Rob Lynch, CEO of Dome Construction agrees. “Women can be phenomenally successful and bring so much to a team,” he said. “We need to create the environment where they are set up to succeed and thrive. Where everyone can share in the opportunities and reward that come with that success. Women have leadership capabilities, they’re accountable, collaborative, problem solvers, team builders. These qualities serve our industry extremely well.”
Companies like Consigli
Consigli Construction Company, a fourth generation construction manager based in the Northeast, exemplifies how male led companies can ally with women builders successfully. For a recent historic renovation project, Consigli and YWCA Central Massachusetts joined in a community benefits agreement (CBA) with the City of Worcester that “promised an all-women-led construction team, living wage jobs with benefits and the participation of union contractors, local women and people of color. The end result of the renovation work exceeded the agreement, resulting in a 50 percent participation by Worcester residents, 30 percent participation by people of color and 9 percent participation by women,” according to this feature in Forbes.
Consigli prides itself on carrying on the family’s legacy as “genuine builders.” Led by brothers Anthony and Matthew Consigli, the company encourages teamwork, camaraderie and good corporate citizenship. Often recognized as a Best Place to Work in the regions it serves, Consigli employs women at all levels. Here is what some of their female employees have to say:
“Consigli understands that it’s a people business and soft skills are extremely important in the construction environment. They created an emerging leaders program to develop staff into the future leaders of the organization which I have benefited greatly from.” Stacey, Superintendent
“Consigli supported my transition from Project Management to Estimating. I was given an opportunity to choose my career path and it led me to a role that I love.” Caitlin, Estimating
“Our culture is accepting – especially with what has been going on in the world Consigli has been very open and supportive with employees’ different needs.” Katie, Project Administration
Leading industry allies
In addition to male allies at the jobsite, women builders have found male allies in leading industry organizations, many of which support and partner with NAWIC. For example, the Associated General Contractors of America and the Association of Builder Contractors (ABC), including regional affiliates, have women builders on their leadership teams.
According to their website, “AGC fully embraces diversity within its membership. People of diverse backgrounds, opinions, perspectives, experiences, and ideas bring creativity and vitality that maximizes member engagement at all levels of the association. Fostering an environment that is welcoming and inclusive to all individuals is essential to achieving our mission and places our members in a position to contribute to the industry’s future success.”
ABC members are also reaching out to the next generation of women builders. The ABC Keystone Chapter held a weeklong camp called the All ‘Bout Construction (ABC) Girls Camp which introduced a dozen girls from local school districts to the construction industry. Girls met women who work in the industry, visited jobsites, and learned skills needed to make their own lighted charging station.
Learn more about our partners, allies, and advocates
The National Association of Women in Construction has 118 chapters throughout the United States – and even has ties internationally. Membership is open to any women in construction throughout the industry. NAWIC seeks to connect members with other women construction workers, educational materials, and training resources to help them build more confidence in their abilities and develop leadership skills. Any women in construction interested in joining NAWIC 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 our website. There are also several membership options available for flexible pricing and membership terms. To learn more about our work to unite construction women in the industry and inspire future female leaders in construction through membership with NAWIC, contact us through our social media pages, our website, or use our “find a NAWIC chapter near you” tool.