The National Association for Women in Construction (NAWIC) has designated the first full week in March, March 6-12 this year, as “Women in Construction Week” (WIC Week™) to celebrate women in the construction industry and raise awareness of what women can achieve in construction.
WIC Week™ commemorates the history of women’s success in the construction industry and encourages more women to enter the field. This year’s theme “Envision Equality” seeks to increase knowledge about the variety of opportunities in construction and the significant role of women in the industry.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 11% of all construction workers are female. However, with labor shortages at many construction sites, WIC Week™ hopes to bring more women into the field in all roles to fill the widening gap.
Previous barriers to women entering construction jobs have declined, and the resistance to women in construction has fallen. As an added incentive for women to enter construction, women make on average 99.1% as much as men, which is a much lower pay gap than most other industries.
Now is an opportune time for women interested in construction to get into the field. Construction sites are facing a severe labor shortage. According to the American Construction Association’s 2021 National Construction Outlook Survey, over 40% of construction companies are facing severe difficulties hiring skilled labor.
Most notable concerns of the construction industry in 2021:
- 43% cite the skilled labor shortage
- 58% of companies have seen higher material costs
- 64% say that projects are taking longer than anticipated
- 59% say safety issues which are often caused by labor shortages
It’s always hard to change careers, and even more difficult when you have no experience and want to enter a traditionally male-dominated field; however, NWAIC and WIC Week™ can help find the resources available to prepare for a career in construction and provide an opportunity to network with other women in construction.
Quality of workers is another concern and learning the skills needed ahead of time can improve women’s chances of getting a job in construction and working easily with other skilled workers on a construction site.
Learning opportunities abound through NWAIC, and the more you know, the easier it will be to become comfortable and respected on a construction site. What many women don’t realize is that construction careers are accessible through apprenticeships, which provide paid on-the-job learning combined with classroom instruction.
NWAIC and WIC Week™ resources can help women find pre-apprenticeships and apprenticeships to help them move into and grow in the construction industry.
A pre-apprenticeship is a program designed to prepare individuals to enter and succeed in a Registered Apprenticeship program. A pre-apprenticeship program partners with at least one Registered Apprenticeship program and can help women learn the basics of the industry and learn which area of construction will suit them best.
An apprenticeship is on-the-job training that involves following and studying an expert in the trade. A variety of professions as well as the construction industry have apprenticeship programs to recruit and train skilled employees. Accredited apprenticeships can transfer to college credits for those who seek further education in the industry.
History of Women in Construction
One of the earliest mentions of women in construction was in 13th century Spain where they were day laborers on stone and wood projects. At that time, society considered women in construction low-class women and often slaves. Their place in society kept them from being included in most record keeping.
In 1883, Emily Roebling managed the completion of the Brooklyn Bridge after her husband became unwell with an illness that would leave him bed-ridden for the remainder of the project. Ms. Roebling stepped in and managed the completion of the project. Project organizers recognized her leadership in the dedication of the bridge, and she was the first person to walk across the bridge.
During this same time, Louise Blanchard Bethune became the first female American architect and owned her own architectural firm. However, it was almost 100 years before Barbara Res became the first woman in charge of building a skyscraper from start to finish.
In 1953, 16 women in Ft. Worth founded Women in Construction of Ft. Worth with the goal of supporting women working in a male-dominated field. Women in Construction of Ft. Worth gained its national charter in 1955 and became NWAIC.
NWAIC Currently has more than 115 chapters in the U.S. This organization supports women in construction by providing opportunities for education, scholarships, mentoring, and professional development.
NWAIC held the first National WIC Week™ in 1998, and its exponential growth since then has helped attract more women to the construction industry. Advancing women in construction trades is a slow process since many women are unaware of the opportunities available to them in the construction industry.
WIC Week™ helps spotlight the opportunities for women in construction. From working with your hands to managing entire projects, NWAIC gives women in construction the opportunity to learn and grow through events during WIC Week™ and NWAIC training and education programs.
Employment Opportunities With Menotti Enterprise
As a minority-owned family business, we encourage women that have expertise in construction safety to apply for any of our open employment opportunities. Our success has always stemmed from the diversity of our team. We would love for you to call Menotti Enterprise, a part of your family.