The Growing Force of Women Contractors in Construction
By Guest Blogger Kaitlin Krull
While our country is making extraordinary strides towards gender equality in the workplace, there are several job sectors in which women are historically regarded as inferior to men. Construction is seen as a man’s domain—forcing women to struggle to land jobs and succeed as contractors and builders. But we at Home Improvement Leads are thankful that times are changing as the battle for equality continues. More and more women are breaking into the male dominated construction world and are thereby changing the way we think of trades. Here are just a few of the ways that women are making their mark on construction.
As of 2013, 18.74% of the U.S. solar workforce was made up of women. Although this figure is far higher than the national average for construction in general (the National Association of Women in Construction and the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimate that as of 2015 only 9.3% of all workers in the construction industry are women) and women make up the highest percentage of minority employment for solar, one could argue that there is a long way to go before achieving total gender equality here. However, organizations such as Women in Solar Energy (WISE) strive to close this gap through networking, funding, advocacy, and the common goal of equality in the solar energy industry.
The highly technical field of HVAC has garnered significant support for women and minority workers in recent years. Women in HVACR, a national organization for women in the HVAC industry, has been around for over 12 years and offers opportunities for women to network and further their industrial education through forums, classes, and annual conferences.
Like its HVAC counterpart, National Women in Roofing is a national organization supporting women in the U.S. roofing industry through social media networking and further education. NWIR is currently steadily growing in membership and, with sponsorship and support, hopes to continue the growing trend of women in roofing for years to come. Further information about women roofing contractors can be found at this webinar with the founder of NWIR.
Window installers and glaziers have one of the most difficult and dangerous construction jobs in the U.S. today. Although the stress and risk levels for window contractors are relatively high, this industry remains number nine on the list of best construction jobs. Perhaps this is why more women are being drawn to the profession now than ever before. The success of women like Nicole Harris, the current President and CEO of the National Glass Association, demonstrates that women can and should be at the forefront of the window industry.
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The construction industry is booming, and women are making themselves known in fields across the sector. National bodies for solar, HVAC, roofing, and glaziers provide communication and education opportunities for women contractors all over the country, ensuring they get the tools and support they need to succeed in a male dominated field.
Women contractors throughout the country are acting as pioneers in the construction industry —including local PDX business owners like Holly Huntley at Environs and Megan at Eight Penny Nail. If these positive trends continue, women will continue to be a force to be reckoned with in the construction world and pave the way to an unified and equal future workplace.