Women in Construction: Our Future Depends On It

A classic image is ingrained in all of our memories.

That strong woman flexing her arm, red bandanna on her head and classic “blue collar” shirt with sleeves rolled up. Rosie the Riveter was the poster that connected our women in America to overseas conflict that was WWII. She was the support that this country needed to complete the task at hand.

Rosie the Riveter

In no way does a labor shortage equate to a casualty heavy war. Our labor shortage in the construction industry is our own fault. We turned our back on the industry that has been the backbone of America since our infancy. Since our inception.

We need Rosie the Riveter now more than ever. We need Florence the Framer. We need Ellie the Electrician. We need Peggy the Plumber. We need Women in Construction.

The picture at the title of this page is that of a member of the Red Horse Airmen at Eglin Air Force Base, FL.  She is 1 of 23 women in the squadron of a total 400 members. The image was not staged. It was her in action, placing a beam for a structure under construction on base.

Senior Airman Paige Rodgers and Staff Sgt. Keny Drescher-Brown, 823rd Red Horse Squadron, share a moment of levity while they position and drill a beam into place March 23 during a construction project at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. The 96th Civil Engineer Group’s open air pavilion is one of many troop training projects the 823rd RHS will complete for the Department of Defense, the Air Force and the local community to maintain their skills until the next deployment. (U.S. Air Force photo/Ilka Cole)

In 2016, women comprised of only 9% in the construction workforce. This number has fluctuated a mere 2% +/- since the 1980’s.

First and foremost, we as business leaders need to create a pathway to the construction industry. This goes for any person looking to enter this great big family of builders in America. We need to have training opportunities readily available to our new workforce. Focus on retention and succession planning for what will be the future professionals of construction.

In addition, we need to make an effort to welcome more women in construction. Women compliment construction in ways no man does. Our job is to embrace these strengths and celebrate the differences they bring.

Construction Tool Manufacturers – this part is for you. Where are tools designed for women? Enter any hardware store and the female specific gloves section is in the gardening section with floral prints. That is not what they need! They need the same protective, leather palm glove that us men all have. It just needs to be sized right.  And do not just make the handle or power tool PINK for God’s sake. That is not helping anyone!

And to the current men in construction. Let’s clean it up! We are professionals. We are leaders. The fact that 88% of women in construction report sexual harassment points to exactly why only 10% of the construction workforce is women. The time is now to be a leader in construction and create a welcoming environment for ALL employees.

We Need You! Women are the future of construction. Harvard Business Review showed that team performances are augmented when women are team members. Their incorporation into teams increases OVERALL intelligence.

Like I said, we need you!!!

Josh Denton
Co Founder of Ground Up Construct. Josh Denton came to the world of construction through a broad career in consumer goods, specifically in the Action Sports Industry. He was surrounded by career minded leaders that lead him to project management in construction for retail locations globally. Through this experience he was exposed to the amazing professionals in construction and the talents they hold. As he witnessed amazing careers in construction he also realized that this was not a career path actively spoken about. This was solidified as he became the GM for a contractor. Professional glaziers and installers surrounded him yet none of them considered themselves the professionals that they are. He partnered with Josh Munns to change that narrative and bring a spotlight back to the strong careers that exist in construction.

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