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OPINION: Women’s work

By May 13, 2024No Comments

As the youngest president of the Associated Builders and Contractors of New Jersey, one of my goals is to bring new, diverse, faces to the construction industry, and that includes introducing more women to this traditionally male-dominated field. Right now, women make up just 14% of the construction workforce in the U.S. and 1% of chief executives in the field.

Samantha DeAlmeida Roman is president of Associated Builders and Contractors of New Jersey.
DeAlmeida Roman

However, the future of the construction industry is changing, as more and more women are now choosing construction careers, according to recent statistics. In fact, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, the percentage of women working in construction trades is the highest it’s been in two decades. And important, more women are being promoted to leadership roles and owning their own construction businesses, with a 64% growth of women-owned construction firms from 2014 to 2019. Additionally, the number of Hispanic women in construction have soared 117% over the past six years, according to analysis of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

It’s time to kill the outdated perception that construction jobs are all about manual labor, and women are not strong enough to do them. Modern technology and innovation have changed the nature of construction work. There is a huge diversity of rewarding roles for women in the construction industry, ranging from project managers to planners, to operators and engineers, design managers, and executive roles. There is no limit to what women can do in this diverse and evolving industry.

For younger women, construction offers the opportunity to start a well-paying career without the cost of a college degree and massive student loan debt. And with construction jobs in demand and far too few workers to fill them, salaries are expected to continue to increase in coming years.

Here are just a few important reasons why construction careers can be a great fit for women.

Women in construction have unlimited potential for leadership advancement and entrepreneurism. In fact, 44% of women in the industry are in professional and managerial positions.

The gender pay gap in the construction industry is also one of the smallest in the country compared to other industries. Women in construction earn about 95% of what men make compared to an average 81% in all other industries. With a nearly non-existent gender pay gap, the construction industry truly prioritizes its female workers.

Importantly, women bring a different perspective than their male counterparts that is highly valued by employers. According to a report from McKinsey & Co., businesses with gender-diverse executive teams are 25% more likely to achieve above-average profitability.

According to the 2022 Levelset Women in Construction report, the top reasons women said they liked working in construction include pride in creating physical buildings; being creative and solving problems; helping customers and clients; flexible work schedules; fast-paced and ever-changing work; and the people they get to work with. An overwhelming 80% of women surveyed said they loved their job.

Getting started in the construction industry is accessible for anyone and doesn’t require an expensive college degree.  Apprenticeship training programs – like the one implemented by the Associated Builders and Contractors of New Jersey four years ago – provide paid, on-the-job training and classroom education.

Working alongside local schools and businesses, ABC-NJ’s Apprenticeship Training program provides pre-apprenticeship construction readiness training and can help prospective apprentices get hired with one of more than 1,300 of our member companies. Our apprentices earn while they learn, pursuing an education while working full-time on the path to a successful lifetime career.

Trade work provides high salaries, fulfilling careers, and the opportunity to run one’s own business. For women in construction, the sky is truly the limit.

Samantha DeAlmeida Roman is president of Associated Builders and Contractors of NJ.