Imagine a world built by women. A society where women play an equal and vital role in the making of our physical world. For many women entering the construction industry, it is not only just a choice of career path, but an expansion of the horizon, the horizon of possibilities for all women. A career in which power tools represent personal power. Not a power to dominate but the power to create a better world for all.
The trades desperately need women to join their ranks. The construction industry is in the midst of a near crisis level workforce shortage. In North America, some estimates project a demand of one million trade professionals by 2023. The existing construction workforce is aging and there are not enough up-and-comers to fill their place. In fact 41% of the current workforce is expected to retire by 2031. Construction projects nationwide are experiencing delays and significant increases in costs due to the shortage of skilled workers. As the industry looks for solutions to this growing problem, the recruitment of women appears to be a critical piece to the puzzle. Only comprising around 10% of the current construction workforce, this demographic appears to be a largely untapped well. Recruiting, training and supporting women in construction will be necessary to ensure the long term health of the industry.
As demand for construction laborer has far outpaced supply, the irony is that pay wages in the trades have skyrocketed surpassing many college income earners. For women, a job in construction can pay up to two to three times the hourly wage of comparable jobs that require college degrees. While the gender pay gap in North America hovers around 84 cents earned by women for every male-earned dollar, in construction, the pay gap is nearly non-existent, at 99 cents to the dollar. Ironically, in what is still very much a male dominated industry, construction is "the great equalizer", because the skills and competency in the construction industry are so highly valued, factors such as gender pay equality are not even an issue.
Female "Pioneers" in the Industry
Successful tradeswoman, HGTV star, builder and renovator.
Professor at Princeton University, considered among the most influential designers of cultural spaces.
Entrepreneur, author, designer and American reality television star of "Fixer Upper".
American architect known as one of Chicago's most prominent architects of her generation.
World renowned architect known for her radical deconstructionist designs.
Canadian television personality and interior designer best known for appearing on "Love or List it Vancouver".
Architect, scientist, engineer and inventor.
Spanish architect awarded the Pritzker prize, one of the world's premier architecture prizes. She is often referred to as the Nobel prize of architecture.
Canadian interior designer best known as a host for programming for HGTV Canada.
NORMA MERRICK SKLAREK
A pioneer in the field of architecture.
In 1959, she was the first registered black female architect in New York.
Changing perceptions and culture
Statistics show that more and more women are joining the construction industry. The institute for Women's policy research found that the share of women working in the construction trades is the highest it's been in two decades. Construction and construction management are also among the fastest growing jobs for women with clear paths into advancement and leadership. More than ever, women are being promoted to leadership roles, holding titles such as architects, administrators and project managers. As women become more engaged in leadership roles such as project management they are also giving a stronger voice to the other woman in the room, the client. Couples collaborate together in home renovations but the woman is usually the one making 90% of the decisions regarding design outcome. With more women project managers communicating directly with clients, the 21st century is introducing a fundamental change in contractor-client interactions, introducing a dynamic for women to decide together how to build a better world.
Diversity of ideas. What makes us different, makes us stronger
At Whiteoak Construction, half of our management team are women and our mission is to continue to encourage tradeswomen to join us, to break down gender barriers and bring a fresh perspective to the construction industry. Trailblazers like the women acclaimed above are pioneers who have shown the world what outstanding, beautiful and invaluable achievements women can envision, create and build. Women who live bravely, boldly expressing their vision. Women of indomitable will, setting the groundwork for a better world. Women who want to build a world they want to see. Every woman who steps forward makes more space for the women who come next.
Today, in North America, there are more than 1.1 million women in the construction industry. Will you be next?
Written by : Albert Zakay