In 1984, 97 percent of American construction workers were men according to the National Women’s Law Center, a renowned women’s rights advocacy group. Perhaps more surprising than that, by 2014, the proportion of women in construction had grown little. Change sometimes comes slowly.
Over the decades, contractors have generally focused on recruiting men, and apprenticeships for women have been scarce. But the industry seems poised for a transformation. Indeed, if you own a contracting company, there’s never been a better time to hire women.
Women in Training
To begin with, many women are now studying the building trades. Nonprofits such as Nontraditional Employment for Women (NEW), which is based in New York City, are offering educational programs for female construction workers. The U.S. government is providing women with construction training as well. And in Canada, the number of female apprentices in these trades grew by 66 percent between 2007 and 2012.
Why Limit Your Hiring Choices?
When you’re open to hiring women in construction, you simply have more job candidates to consider. It’s very possible that you’ll find female applicants who outshine their male counterparts. And over time, those individuals could prove to be model employees: dependable, dedicated and detail oriented.
Of course, when you hire the most qualified candidates, whether they’re female or male, you’ll deal with less absenteeism and turnover.
More Women in Construction Could Mean More Contracts
When women work for your construction company, you’ll probably experience a public relations boost. Many people will appreciate that you’re forward-looking, and some homeowners and business owners might be delighted to choose you over your all-male competitors. Plus, your odds of facing a gender discrimination lawsuit will be lower if you hire women.
In addition, when government agencies seek contractors, they typically look for those that employ women. For example, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority is searching for companies with female electricians, plumbers, carpenters and other tradeswomen on the payroll. Also, official guidelines state that at least 6.9 percent of the workers on a federal construction project should be women.