What will attract more women to construction?

Women in construction Ellis Fox Blog

We’ve had these conversations before, and yet statistics show that that there are even less women in construction than previous years. Despite the conferences and spotlights on female leaders in the industry, the reality is that there’s very little progress. If more women are entering the industry, they’re not staying.

It’s disappointing considering that it’s 2024 and this supposed to be an age of equal opportunity. What is hindering progress and how can we overcome this? We discuss some considerations:

Unconscious bias

A major stumbling block to change and progress is the simple fact that you don’t know, what you don’t know. Speak to many in the construction industry and their response is that they don’t understand what the problem is. The women they know and work with in construction do well and are respected. This may be true, but it still doesn’t answer the question about why they’re such a small percentage of the workforce? Maybe simply acknowledging that construction is not an easy industry for women to progress in is a starting point. And then seeking out what can be done to make it more attractive to women.

Gender pay gap

The industry will never attract top female talent if a pay gap remains. If women are expected to do the same role, their remuneration should reflect their skills and experience, not their gender. The mindset that it’s okay to offer women less needs to change. This is not a problem exclusive to construction. It’s prevalent in almost all industries, and it shouldn’t just be women raising the voices about how this is no longer acceptable.

Flexibility and family responsibility

If companies talk about their employees having a better work / life balance, then policies need to reflect that. Flexibility is a key element that attracts women to the workforce. They don’t want to have to choose between family and work. They can do both but not when met with unrealistic expectations from employers. Showing empathy and giving flexibility to employees goes much further in garnering their loyalty, especially women.

The above considerations have one thing in common: A mindset change. One cannot expect an industry as a whole to change when the average employee still doesn’t see what the problems might be. Yes, it’s a collective issue, but also an individual one. When one person broadens their mindset, it has a ripple effect. Be that person.