Why women are creating new paths in the construction industry

Women are paving new roads in and beyond the construction industry, and are helping change leadership and inspiration

By Wendy Montgomery April 13, 2020

With women only making up 10% of the construction industry, it might seem as if the new roads women are paving aren’t extremely visible. However, women are increasingly becoming a powerhouse of leadership and inspiration within the construction industry.

Paralleled with NAWIC’s goal of highlighting women as a visible component of the construction industry, Southland Industries’ senior talent manager, shed light on how women are paving new roads in and beyond the construction industry, sharing why it makes sense for women to be a part of this growing field.

Question: Why do you think women should join the construction industry?

Wendy Montgomery: One reason is that the gender pay gap is smaller in the construction industry with women on average earning 99.1 percent of what men make. Another reason is the talent need in construction. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a “faster-than-average” employment growth for jobs in construction through 2026.

Q: NAWIC’s purpose is to strengthen and amplify the success of women in the construction industry. How do you think women in the construction industry can individually amplify their success?  

A: For any employee, continuous education and professional development is always a differentiator. Specifically, for women, by developing professional networking skills and asking power questions. Both skills foster continuous self-improvement. Building a strong network allows for access to mentors, establishes advocates, and identifies professional sponsors to help with career acceleration. And, learning how to ask powerful questions will unlock the ability of gaining deep insights into blind spots and potential solutions to address root causes of professional pitfalls.

Q: The percentage of women in the construction industry is expected to grow rapidly in the next few years. What do you think is contributing to this increase?

A: There is a reality around the talent shortage for the construction industry, specifically in skilled trades. But, there is also a technology skill gap that is increasingly impacting construction as well. Since the last recession, construction has made a strong comeback due to a growing economy, construction jobs have become more diverse and technical, and there is also the fact that women occupy more than half of the labor workforce. There is a great opportunity for women to be a significant part of closing the talent gap in construction.

Q: What are some of the benefits of being a woman in the construction industry?

A: Aside from the better than average pay equity, construction is evolving and more often we are seeing industry leaders embrace diversity and technology as a competitive advantage. This is good news for women and more specifically for women to grow in many career paths.

Q: This year’s Women in Construction Week theme is “paving new roads to construction.” How do you think women can pave new roads in a male-dominated industry?

A: I think this is an important juncture for the industry. More than ever, women of the present have the opportunity to create a path and help their peers lead with more empathy, less bias, and to be more inclusive of women in the workforce. Construction is listening to the voices of its women and now is the time to create the foundation for the construction landscape of tomorrow.

This article originally appeared on Southland’s blog, In the Room. Southland is a CFE Media content partner. 

Author Bio: Wendy Montgomery, senior manager of talent management for Southland Industries. Wendy is responsible for developing and executing organizational workforce planning, employee engagement, and talent acquisition strategies.