The share of women in the construction industry has remained shockingly low—under 3 percent—for decades, due in large part to the discrimination that blocks women from entering and staying in the field. Sexual harassment and hostility, lack of mentors, and stereotyped assumptions about women’s capabilities all contribute to the problem. Unequal access to construction jobs in turn negatively affects women’s income, as traditionally male fields pay higher wages and have a lower wage gap than those dominated by women. More must be done to reverse this trend in construction, and the growth of women’s participation in similar nontraditional fields shows that it is possible.
This report, Women in Construction:Still Breaking Ground, delves into the data on women in construction, examines the roadblocks they face, and offers practical recommendations to increase women’s opportunities to high-paying construction careers. The National Women’s Law Center is sounding the alarm because without focused attention, no progress will be made. If we are to fulfill the decades old promise of women’s full participation, enforcement of applicable federal laws is critical. The federal government, contractors, unions and advocates should work together to address this problem, which has significant negative consequences for the financial security of women and their families.