Photo by Christopher Burns on Unsplash

Between 2017 and 2018, the number of women working in construction trades increased by 17.6 percent, rising to well over a quarter of a million women (277,000) based on data published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The share of women working in construction jobs in 2018 is the highest in twenty years, but women remain strongly underrepresented in the trades. Less than 3.4 percent of construction trade workers in 2018 were women.

Women’s share of jobs in construction is slightly higher in construction management (7.7%) than in the trades (3.4%). Overall, including those in administrative and back-office functions, women were only 9.9% of all workers in the construction industry

On individual trades, women in jobs such as ‘Construction and Building Inspectors,’ increased to 14 percent from 10.2 percent in 2017. Women’s share of jobs as ‘Laborers,’ ‘Painters,’ ‘Pipelayers, Pipefitters, Plumbers and Steamfitters’ also increased.

Employment of women as Electricians was down 0.6 percent, despite the higher number of electricians hired.

The construction industry provides well-paying jobs that do not require a college degree. In 2018, the average weekly earnings for women working full-time in the industry was $785. The average weekly pay is only 94% of the $834 that men earn and much higher than the 81.1% gender earnings ratio for all full-time weekly worker in 2018.

One way to start a construction career is through apprenticeships, which provide paid on-the-job learning combined with postsecondary classroom instruction. Women-focused pre-apprenticeship programs are important as it opens doors for those interested in pursing a career in construction.

Hiring more women in construction presents an opportunity to prepare the industry for a sustainable future.