A woman construction worker standing with her arms crossed

Recent Report Champions Women in Construction


Construction is an industry historically dominated by men and currently grappling with a severe shortage of skilled labor. Meanwhile, women represent less than 11% of the construction workforce, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. A recent white paper by the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) found that women offer a fresh perspective on how things are done and possess qualities that can help enhance a construction company’s performance. It’s something worth considering as your business looks to maintain or expand its workforce.

Improved Outcomes

The NCCER report identified several qualities women bring to the jobsite that can improve project outcomes:

Focus On Teamwork. Women tend to be less focused on individual achievement and more focused on “making sure that the entire team is functioning at a high level,” says the report.

Attention to Detail. According to project management teams that participated in focus groups led by the paper’s authors, “women are much more focused on following the prescribed work process as designed instead of relying on experience and physical strength.”

Attentiveness to Jobsite Cleanliness and Organization. OSHA guidelines recognize “housekeeping” — that is, keeping a clean and organized jobsite — as a factor in project productivity and safety performance. According to the white paper, women are “more attentive to continually maintaining a clean and organized jobsite than their male colleagues.”

Recruiting Tips

To take advantage of the benefits women can offer, hiring them isn’t enough. You’ve got to create a welcoming work environment. Per recommendations made in the NCCER report, construction businesses should:

Evaluate Company Culture. Openly and proactively address discrimination and sexual harassment. Set the right tone at the top. Establish behavior standards that are clearly communicated and uniformly enforced. Ensure that women are treated equally in the office as well as on the jobsite. Offer them the same advancement opportunities as men. Provide training on sensitivity; unconscious bias; and diversity, equity and inclusion.

Offer Child-Care Support. According to the NCCER, among the biggest obstacles faced by women in the construction industry is a lack of flexibility to care for their families. Scheduling issues have a much bigger impact on women working on the jobsite than on women working in the office. To the extent possible, set flexible, predictable schedules. Also be sure your construction business is competitive regarding paid time off and other benefits designed to accommodate parents.

Provide Training Opportunities. Training is a key factor in recruiting and retaining workers — especially craftspeople. Because women tend to receive less exposure to construction skills at a young age than men, training opportunities are particularly important for women when choosing where to work.

Create a Career Path to Leadership. This can serve as a powerful recruitment and retention tool. It can also enhance company performance. As noted above, women tend to be detail-oriented and put team success above individual performance — valuable traits for a leader.

The Sooner, the Better

The shortage of construction workers is expected to persist, and women will likely play a key role in closing the labor gap. However, it’ll take time for many construction businesses to build a company culture that truly supports women and allows them to thrive. The sooner you start laying the foundation, the better.