While the number of female engineering students has climbed over the past 20 years, it still hovers just below 20 percent. Less than 9 percent of workers in the US construction industry are women, according to the National Association of Women in Construction. Out of almost 10 million people working in the industry, only around 900,000 are women. These are some of the lowest percentages of female workers in any industry in the United States.
It’s easy to assume this is because women are exiting the workforce, perhaps due to personal lifestyle choices such as raising a family or caring for ailing family members. Statistics show that 15 percent of workers left their jobs in 2017, and of those remaining, slightly more women decided to stay in the workforce compared to male colleagues (82/81 percent). This proves that women are not leaving the workforce, but they are just not getting promoted. If we hold this pace, we will move the bar only 1 percent over the next 10 years. However, if we promote and hire women at equal rates as men, we can gain 10 percent over the next 10 years—which, incidentally, still wouldn’t bring us up to 50/50.
Why do this, though? Why do we care about these numbers? Because diversity is immensely powerful. Eighty-seven percent of companies say they prioritize diversity because it produces better business results. However, only 52 percent of the employees of those companies said they feel the impact of that prioritization.1
How can we better maximize the impact? What if there were some way to influence this trend that benefits men, women, and the entire industry? What if we could each be a part of “Making it Better”? And not because it’s the “right” thing to do, although it is, but because it produces better business results.
There are three influential actions that I believe will help us increase female representation in the construction risk industry.