What Does Being a Woman in Construction Mean for GenZ?

The GenZ generation represents the youngest members of the workforce, ranging in age from teens to about 25 years old. Unlike for their mothers, or even grandmothers, being a woman in construction today is much more common. When the oldest members of the GenZ generation were born, there were less than 800,000 women working in construction. Now, there are more than a million. With the increase in the number of women in the field, there has also been more acceptance as negative attitudes have lessened along with an increase in diversity awareness.

Yet most GenZ’ers still don’t see construction as a first choice for a career.

According to Walls & Ceilings magazine, “Despite the advances on today’s construction sites, Gen Z—and their parents—still perceive construction as physically demanding, trivial and even sometimes dirty or dangerous. Many don’t understand how today’s industry has evolved with technology, safety, unparalleled skill, and the opportunity to contribute to something greater than themselves. All traits that appeal to Gen Z.”

So what does construction offer for a young woman of the GenZ generation?
For this generation, financial turmoil was common. Think the Great Recession of 2008 and the current economic climate. Being a woman in construction can offer the lucrative and stable career with growth potential that many GenZ’ers desire. Construction has one of the highest gender pay equity rates of any industry. Many positions offer apprenticeships or on-the-job training programs, allowing workers to earn money quickly without being saddled with debt from college loans. For young women seeking professional careers, certification and degree programs can help them get established on a path to success.

Technology plays a role in attracting this generation to construction. GenZ’ers are digital natives that grew up with STEM as an educational buzzword. They were exposed at an early age to science, technology, engineering, and math – all desirable skills for the construction industry. They are familiar with the technology that is changing the industry, such as drones, Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR), GPS, 3D printing, and remote control, having grown up alongside it. An influx of  technology-savvy workers would ease the current workforce shortage and build on the potential for the industry.

Today, the majority of women in construction work in positions in construction management, accounting, marketing, sales, and administration. Careers in these fields, where there are more opportunities for remote work, can give GenZ’ers the flexibility they desire.

“A lot of the younger generation is really into technology,” said Scott Ponsler, labor director of Kent, Washington-based mechanical contractor Hermanson Co. “Obviously, on the construction side, we don’t have the ability to work from home — we have to be on the jobsite building the buildings. But, we have seen members of our estimating and project management teams take advantage of hybrid schedules, where they’re able to do some work from home. So it’s an intriguing opportunity, especially for the younger workforce.”

How can GenZ learn about being a woman in construction?
Mentorship is one of the best ways for young women to build on their potential for a career in construction. Not only can they gain from the experience and knowledge of another woman in construction, but they can make valuable industry connections, too. Mentorships can be informal arrangements between two people or part of an established program from a school, company or organization such as the Construction Management Association of America, the Associated General Contractors of America, and NAWIC.

Students enrolled in construction-related programs at institutions of higher education, vocational training programs and apprenticeship programs can take advantage of NAWIC’s mentorship opportunities and networking connections with a student membership for a nominal fee.

With more than 5,000 members and more than 115 chapters in the United States (and affiliate organizations worldwide), the National Association of Women in Construction is the leading organization for women builders. NAWIC provides community, mentorship, networking, leadership opportunities, and education for its members. Career resources for women in construction include the latest construction job openings and professional development events.