Women in Construction
It comes as no surprise that the construction industry, like most skilled trades, is a male-dominated field. Today, women comprise only about 10% of the construction workforce in Georgia and 9% in the United States. The numbers weren’t always so low. Just between 1985 and 2007, the number of women who are employed in the construction industry in the U.S. grew by 81%. Unfortunately, due to the economic crisis in 2008, many men and women lost their construction jobs and the industry itself has since seen a slow recovery.
The good news is that a number of organizations and private construction companies are actively working to make the construction industry a more inviting and exciting place for women. The Policy Group on Tradeswomen’s Issues (PGTI), which is made up of union leaders, community organizers, tradeswomen and government leaders, is pushing for such change and is working toward the goal of increasing the percentage of women employed in the construction industry to 20% by the year 2020.
It’s hard to overlook the perks. Constructions jobs often pay well, sometimes much better than other jobs typically occupied by women (child care, retail, healthcare). In the first year of an apprenticeship, a woman can earn as much as $20 per hour and receive additional health insurance and retirement benefits. As we’ve discussed before, there is a shortage of skilled tradesmen and almost 200,000 jobs are available every year within private and public construction sectors.
Of vital importance in this initiative is educating girls who are still in high school about their career options and setting up young girls up with female role models and mentors who already hold positions in construction. Here are some local and national organizations that are doing just that:
National Association of Women in Construction
The NAWIC maintains an online career center to help women find jobs, post resumes and connect with apprenticeship programs. There are also many local and regional chapters. Learn more.
Goodwill of North Georgia
This program offers hands-on training, informational seminars and job placement assistance. Learn more.
Mentoring a Girl in Construction (MAGIC) is a week-long summer camp that allows high school girls to learn more about the construction industry and participate in hands-on activities related to the field. Learn more about our previous involvement with MAGIC.