According to CNBC, women make up a mere 9.1% of the construction community. Few men know what it is like to walk into a room full of women and have all their attention turn to you. For women in construction, it’s a common occurrence to be the only female in a panel discussion, on a planning committee, or at a project site.
Despite low representation, women are choosing to showcase their unique perspective and diverse talents for the betterment of the construction industry. They are leveraging gender differences and highlighting the value they bring to the industry. How? Women in construction are being intentional about getting involved, confidently voicing their opinions, while giving back to the industry.
1. Show Up & Be Seen
Being successful as a female in any male-dominated industry requires showing up and being seen in the right ways. Examples include asking to be involved in industry-wide projects like planning committees, executive boards, or annual conventions. Involvement in industry events builds credibility and spurs professional relationships. Similarly, women need to increase their attendance at seminars, workshops, and training sessions to learn more about industry initiatives and grow their knowledge base. Exhibiting a desire to learn is an essential piece to positioning yourself as an industry authority.
Pro Tip: If you do not want to be heavily involved in projects, request smaller roles, and work your way up to becoming a more visible participant. As an example, start with being a member of a planning committee, then work your way to moderating at an event and then potentially offer to be a presenter.
2. Voice Your Opinion
Construction is full of opinionated individuals and having a tough exterior seems like a requirement for success in the industry. With that in mind, it’s refreshing to see more women sharing their voice and being active participants at the job site and in conference room discussions.
Engaging in open communication allows others to see the value women offer and is a reminder that everyone deserves a seat at the table. Additionally, women offer a unique perspective on circumstances from their male counterparts. That’s why women need to speak up: having multiple vantage points is crucial for the creativity and ingenuity of any team.
3. Give Back
Authority comes from being a source of wisdom and guidance for others. One of the best ways to establish yourself as an industry authority is by sharing your talents. Examples may include:
- Mentoring others in construction
- Writing industry articles for trade associations
- Offering guidance and support to industry leaders
Many female leaders within construction are willingly sharing those talents with the industry. While some may think it’s a waste of time to work outside your organization, women, in particular, are finding it has helped to bolster their credibility and authority.
Additionally, authority figures are those who don’t shy away from addressing industry topics that aren’t mainstream. Examples of current issues women are bringing to the forefront include:
- Empathetic Leadership
- Mental Health
Discussing vulnerable issues with confidence has opened the door to a lot of other diversity and inclusion topics that have positively impacted the entire construction industry. It’s through those challenging discussions that women are building credibility, visibility, and establishing themselves as leading-edge industry experts.
Blending in allows us to be comfortable and enables a person to fly under the radar. Women in construction often don’t have that luxury. With no other option except to stick out, women are using that competitive edge within the workforce to thrive.
While being the only woman at industry events can feel isolating, women are confidently recognizing the value they bring to the table, now more than ever. Whether it be a more empathetic approach, a subjective viewpoint, or a calming presence, women are driving change within the world of construction.
Men see the amazing reverberations of having more women-led construction initiatives and are cheering them on from the sidelines. It’s one thing to thrive as an individual, but it’s another to have an entire industry thrive because of the inclusion of specific groups.