Green Home coach | Marla Esser Cloos | Women in construction

Women In Construction: Workforce Development For A New Era

As a woman in the building industry, one of my passions has been to connect with and support other women in the industry and the skilled trades that are a vital part of the industry. The building industry is diverse and includes jobs in finance, title, insurance, real estate, maintenance, repair and many more on top of the jobs we more commonly think of like carpentry, plumbing, electrical and heating/cooling. In truth it takes DOZENS of people to successfully build or remodel a home. 

The number of women in the building and skilled trades is growing, although women still represent about 10% of the total workforce. With a huge labor shortage and skilled trades people “graying” out of their careers, it is the perfect time to build more diversity in the workforce that helps to build (literally) our communities. Reaching a more diverse audience to inspire them to pursue careers in the building industry is a key part of this process. It is encouraging to see a growing number of events and programs to help inspire students of all ages and adults looking for a career change. 

The first week in June 2023, we kick off the 2nd annual Construct My Future construction camp in Oklahoma City. I love that I get to be a part of this team producing a construction camp for middle schoolers. Our aim was to inspire them before high school so they could be aligned with a track in high school to further their education in the building industry. This also helps to better prepare them to consider and pursue a dual enrollment program with our Career Tech schools for training and a high school diploma upon graduation. 

The article I wrote for Elemental.Green continues the story (below) with resources to help learn more. 

ORIGINAL BLOG on Elemental.Green 

As a long-standing member of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Professional Women in Building Council, I’m a staunch supporter of diversifying the building industry. There are scores of jobs of all types waiting to be filled, and we’ll need construction professionals of all types and identities to build zero carbon communities that will support us all.

Yet there are two realities in the construction industry today: women remain grossly underrepresented in the industry, and there is an urgent skilled labor shortage. As our skilled trades workforce “grays out” and retires, there is often no young trainee to come up behind. Recruiting more women could help reduce labor shortages.


The building industry has the lowest gender diversity in the American workforce. According to an NAHB analysis, women make up about 11% of the construction workforce. In 2020, women made up 46.8% of the total workforce in the US, yet for every 10 people in a construction-related role, only one of them is a woman. Diversification is not only needed for the sake of opportunity for all, it is needed to build the workforce that will construct, maintain, and green our communities.

This blog from InterCoast Colleges does a great job of summarizing six reasons women should consider a career in sustainable construction.

  1. Less of a pay gap
  2. Ample job opportunities
  3. Exercise problem-solving skills
  4. Increasing prevalence of women active in the sector
  5. Women-centered scholarships are available
  6. A range of on-site construction and industry-related jobs available


Getting women into the construction 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 lucrative and otherwise rewarding careers in the building industry. The Professional Women in Building Council of Des Moines, IA, produced a Construction Activity book designed to engage youngsters students to learn a little about building (or just have some fun with the activities). I appreciate them sharing this activity book with the 2023 Build My Future students and their families. I believe that the earlier we engage students, the more likely they will see themselves in a building and construction role.


Training and education programs for the construction industry and skilled trades range from dual enrollment in a career-tech program during high school to apprenticeships to on-the-job training. Employers are hungry for trained workers, though it’s expensive to guide a novice to journey-level experience.

Once they have joined the construction industry, there are organizations supporting women in the industry and skilled trades. Professional Women in Building is one; other examples include the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC), National Women in Roofing (NWIR), and Tradeswomen, Inc. Women Build events organized by Habitat for Humanity are great for women seeking to learn more about different building skills.

As part of the Build My Future OKC team, I get to show hundreds of students, including many young women and girls, the great careers available in our industry—the building industry—where we build community.



Green Building Workforce Development Initiatives (US Department of Energy)

Building Science Education (US Department of Energy)

Industry Career Paths (Home Builders Institute)

HBI Job Corps

Careers in the Construction Trades (National Association of Home Builders)

Construction Management Careers (National Association of Home Builders)

NAHB Young Professionals

Habitat for Humanity volunteer opportunities (must be at least 16)

Green Workforce Training & Accreditation (Earth Advantage)

Rebuilding Together local volunteer opportunities

Construct My Future Camp

How to Encourage Women to Join the Construction Industry (NAHB)

Women Building Careers in Construction by Sheri Koones in Forbes

3 Reasons Workforce Development is Now a (Big) Part of My Work by Green Home Coach

Women of Renewable Industries and Sustainable Energy Career Website

Wind Energy Education and Training Programs (Department of Energy)

Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) Clean Energy Career Maps and Training Programs Directory

Certified Passive House Tradesperson Training (The Passive House Network)