Women in Building

2 Realities in the Building Industry – Women in Building and Labor Shortage

October in Oklahoma City is the intersection of Build My Future OKC, Careers in Construction month and Professional Women in Building (PWB). When PWB of Central Oklahoma came together as a newly re-organized council, we did so with a heart for the community. Our PWB adopted a signature project to serve the community and our building industry through workforce development – Build My Future OKC. We had 3 goals: (1) inspire Central Oklahoma high school students to pursue careers in the home building industry and the skilled trades and (2) be an example for young women to pursue careers in the building industry and (3)  be community facing for Central Oklahoma Home Builders Association (COHBA) – our home association – and offer both PWB and COHBA members volunteer opportunities. 

2 Realities in the Building Industry

As a long-standing member of Professional Women in Building, I’m a staunch supporter of women in the building industry. There are scores of types of jobs of all types and it takes them all to build our communities and the structures that support us. 

Yet there are 2 realities in the building industry today – women are still very much in the minority in the industry and there is a large skilled labor shortage. As our skilled trades workforce “grays out” there is often no one to come up next. Hiring women workers could help reduce the labor shortages. 

Diversity in the Building Industry

The building industry has the lowest percentage of gender diversity in the workforce. According to an NAHB Analysis (National Association of Home Builders), women make up about 11% of the construction workforce. In 2020, women made up 46.8% of the total workforce in the U.S., yet for every 10 people in a construction-related role, one of them is a woman.  Diversifying the building industry is not only needed for the sake of opportunity for all, it is needed to build the workforce needed to continue to build, maintain and support our communities. 

Encouraging Women to Enter the Building Industry

This blog at Intercoast.edu does a great job of summarizing the 6 reasons women should consider a career in construction.
1. Lower Pay Gap
2. Lots of Job Opportunities
3. Excellent Problem-Solving Skills
4. A Culture of Embrace
5. Scholarships Available
6. Plenty of Different Jobs

Outreach

Getting women in the building industry, especially the skilled trades, requires outreach, training and support. Events such as Build My Future, construction camps and other outreach events show all students, including girls and young women, that there are great careers in the building industry that they can excel at. The PWB of Des Moines, Iowa produced a Construction Activity book designed to engage younger students to learn about building or just have fun with the activities. We appreciate their gracious sharing of this activity book for our Build My Future students and their families. The earlier the engagement, the more likely students can see themselves in a role they may not have envisioned before.  

Training and education

The number and types of training and education programs for the building industry and skilled trades range from dual enrollment in a CareerTech program during high school to apprenticeship programs to on the job training. Employers are eager for trained workers and may have assistance and their own training. If you are interested in a role in the building industry, ask about getting started. 

Support 

Support once in the building industry may include participating in organizations supporting women in the industry and skilled trades. Professional Women in Building is one such organization. Other examples are National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC), National Women in Roofing (NWIR), and Tradeswomen, Inc. Engaging with events like Women Build of Habitat for Humanity is a great way to encourage women to learn more about building skills. Check around in your community for opportunities to connect with other women in the building industry and opportunities to engage with the community. 

Personally, I am so honored to be a part of the team that brought Build My Future to Oklahoma City. We get to show hundreds of students, with lots of young women students, the great careers available in our industry – the building industry – where we build community. 

Resources and Referral links:

Build My Future OKC

Build My Future OKC – Get Involved

Build My Future OKC Trainings and Resources

Building Activity Book download

Construct My Future Camp

NAHB Careers in Construction Month Toolkit

National Association of Home Builders Student Chapters

How to Capitalize on the Skilled Trades Training Trend 

How to Encourage Women to Join the Construction Industry

Women Building Careers in Construction by Sheri Koones in Forbes

3 Reasons Workforce Development is Now a (Big) Part of My Work

 

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