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Women in construction have come a long way. Or have they?

10/15/2014 at 10:13 am by

Twenty-five years ago this October, the Women’s Business Ownership Act of 1988 was signed, providing greater opportunities for women entrepreneurs to access counseling and training, capital, and contracts. Today more women than ever are opening their own businesses—and growing them.  Does this also hold true for women in construction?

Yes, according to a 2013 article on Forbes.com that showed women-owned construction firms are on the rise, making it onto last year’s Inner City 100 list of the fastest-growing urban businesses in the U.S.  The article pointed out that women are breaking through the “concrete ceiling” and getting more involved on the entrepreneurial side of the industry.

This is great news, but we also have to put it into perspective.  While growing, the percentage of women-owned construction business is still relatively small. According to a 2012 business trends report by American Express Open, only 7.5% of firms in the construction industry are women-owned, compared to 29.2% of firms across all industries.  In contrast, the health care and social assistance industry has 52.9% of firms with women at the helm.

Several organizations are working to increase the number and influence of women in the construction industry. Here are three that offer helpful resources and support:

  • Women Construction Owners and Executives.  WCOE is a strong advocate in Washington D.C. for issues important to women in construction. The organization provides professional development resources and a network of executive women in construction for peer-to-peer assistance and information.
  • Women Contractors Association. WCA is committed to promoting women in leadership roles and creating strong role models and mentors to assist future women entering the construction arena.
  • National Association of Women in Construction. Perhaps the oldest organization dedicated to women in construction (its roots date back to 1953), NAWIC focuses on advancing the causes of all women in construction, from tradeswomen to business owners.

While headway has been made by many amazing women, we still have a ways to go to remove hurdles and encourage more women to make a career in construction—whether it’s in leadership or as a trade professional.

What is your opinion?  Are women gaining ground in construction?

About the Author

Deb Carpenter-Beck is a writer and marketer with more than 25 years of experience in the construction and real estate industries. She often writes about technology and best practices and is passionate about helping contractors and real estate professionals achieve their business goals. You can follow her on Twitter @DebCBConstruct.

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