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Closing the Gap: Women on Construction Jobs

Closing the Gap: Women on Construction Jobs

In honor of March being Women’s History Month, our legal team at The Perecman Firm, P.L.L.C. wanted to take some time to shine a spotlight on the many contributions women have made to the U.S. labor force, as well as what can be done to further bridge the gap in industries with historically higher rates of male employment, chief among them being construction.

With nearly 75 million women in the civilian work force, and close 47% of all U.S. workers being female, statistics which show that America’s construction workers are still overwhelmingly likely to be men, warranting a deeper dive into determining why – and an exploration of what’s being done to change that.

Women in Construction: NYC & Nationwide

According to a recent article from CNBC, just 9.1% of America’s construction workers are women. That includes women like Sinade Carroll, who one fateful day noticed an ad in a New York City subway from the Nontraditional Employment for Women (NEW), an origination which trains women for careers in construction and trades such as maintenance and utilities.

Despite not having known there were female construction workers, Sinade made the decision to call NEW and learn more. What followed was the realization that she had found the right career path, an end to her nursing studies, and her enrollment in NEW’s apprenticeship program, where she learned the essential skills needed to make her employable and safe in the NYC’s booming construction industry.

Thanks to women like Sinade, who’s now a member of the NYC District Council of Carpenters Union, New York City has become one of the nation’s most thriving cities for new and renovated construction. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the industry’s 12% projected growth from 2016 and 2026 is prompting many lawmakers, advocates, and local union leaders to bring more women like Sinade into an industry filled with diverse opportunities and strong, consistent wages.

Empowering a Growing Work Force

Organizations like NEW, the National Association of Women in Construction (NWIC), and a number of others throughout the state and the country have many initiatives on their radar. Among them are efforts designed to close the gap concerning low rates of female employment in the U.S. construction industry, as well as pay gaps that include female construction workers earning an average of 95% of what their male colleagues make.

While that’s a big improvement over the 82% average women earn in comparison to make workers across all industries, there’s still tremendous potential for building up women’s roles in construction. Though the average annual salary for construction workers in 2017 was nearly $39K, high-skilled positions and certain trades see average annual salaries in the six figures.

Ensuring women have the resources and training to be among those workers and become higher paid leaders is a major objective, as current statistics show a lack of diversity in the types of positions commonly held by female construction workers. For example:

  • Nearly half (45%) of all women in construction are employed in office and sales roles.
  • Almost a third (31%) of women in construction hold professional management roles.
  • 21% are employed in roles involving natural resources / construct and maintenance.
  • 1.5% hold service occupation positions, such as maintenance and cleaning.
  • Just 1.4% are in production, transportation, and material moving positions.

To support the many women currently in construction, and the many more who are considering it, advocates are urging a better focus on the different available career paths the industry offers, as well as ways to rethink how more women can be brought into the industry. In particular, many see the need for:

  • Encouraging more elementary and middle school girls to learn about the construction industry and related career paths.
  • Promoting early exposure to STEM education and careers, and providing resources that help female students earn the education and skills needed for construction-related jobs.
  • Targeted vocational training and development programs (like NEW) which help train women and assist them in finding employment in fields involving electrical work, carpentry, plumbing, iron-working, and others.
  • Legislation to build gender diversity in certain lines of work, including construction jobs.

Overall, the construction industry is becoming more diverse, and new resources and increasing awareness are helping fuel a future where women may soon bridge the gap. Regardless of when that happens, women, just like men, will still face high risks of suffering injuries in all types of construction accidents. When they do, our New York City construction accident lawyers are readily available to help them better understand their rights and options for compensation.

To discuss your construction accident case anywhere in NYC or the state of New York, call (212) 577-9325 or contact us online.

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