Debunking the Myths: The Truth About Women in Construction
March 25, 2022
It’s time to let go of all preconceived notions regarding women in construction. As we continue to celebrate Women’s History Month, we’re looking at four common misconceptions about the industry with real data and the real experiences of women in construction from DP Electric.
Myth: Construction is only for men.
Fact: Construction requires people of all backgrounds and skills.
When people think of construction, they typically think of hard labor and heavy machinery that requires strong and tough workers. While the construction field is predominantly male, it is NOT only for men. In 2020, 10.9% of all people in construction were women, with the number steadily increasing. (1)
“I think all the young women that might be considering entering the field should feel free to pursue their passion and not let old school thinking hold them back – Claudia Perez, Assistant Controller, DP Electric
Women have many unique strengths that can add substance and quality in male-dominated industries. According to Christina Fernandez, Director of HR at DP Electric, some of those skills are communication, collaboration, and soft skills – traits that are more commonly associated with women. These traits are non-negotiable within the industry. Having more diversity in any industry is vital for growth, as successful companies seek diverse opinions, approaches, and backgrounds to make informed decisions.
“A more inclusive and diverse culture opens our minds to different perspectives and will ultimately lead to a happier workplace for all.” – Claudia Perez, Assistant Controller, DP Electric
A barrier to women entering construction is a fear that they will get treated differently among their male peers, but Fernandez’s experience showed that “as long as you show that you care as much as the guys do, you’d be surprised at the respect you get.”
Myth: There are ONLY manual labor jobs within construction.
Fact: There are many different responsibilities within construction.
While construction is most known for manual labor, many different positions are available within the industry. After all, there need to be people to hire the workers to do the labor, plan out the labor, pay the workers, work directly with businesses and customers, supply materials, maintain paperwork that goes along with any of these steps, and much more.
“There’s a lot more brainwork than manual labor such as utilizing math skills, layout, etc.” – Christina Fernandez, Director of HR, DP Electric
Construction is an industry that welcomes various backgrounds, education, and experience levels. Many people who work in construction did not start there. DP Electric’s Claudia Perez studied accounting and entrepreneurship in college: “I ended up marrying the two roles my parents played – dad was a construction worker; mom was an accountant – by becoming an accountant within the construction industry.”
Some people might be worried that their skills will not be transferable, but most people have more transferable skills than they realize, no matter what industry you’re coming from. Even if you have no previous experience, companies like DP Electric have on-the-job training and apprenticeships to teach you everything you need to know.
“We bring in people with no experience…helping them fulfill their career goals” – Christina Fernandez, Director of HR, DP Electric
Myth: There is limited opportunity for personal growth.
Fact: There is HUGE opportunity for growth in construction.
The industry itself is set to grow 11% between 2016 and 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2), surpassing the average job growth of 7.7%. Despite this industry growth, fewer and fewer people are going into construction, leaving plenty of opportunities for hopeful future construction industry workers. It is estimated that by 2026, 29% of the current construction workforce will retire (3). Now is the perfect time to join if you want to grow your skills.
“I would say that there is a ton of growth in this industry – there are so many supportive, genuine people…the opportunities to grow in whatever that looks like for you.” – Christina Fernandez, Director of HR DP Electric
“Our industry is very much about training, education, and personal development.” – Danielle Puente, CFO of DP Electric
Mentoring plays a significant role on the job. At DP Electric, Perez mentions that her manager understood the importance of a positive culture for employees. She shares, “I was mentored by some of the most admirable women I have ever met” and has worked with countless inspiring women throughout her time in the industry.
Along with personal skill development, there is another opportunity for growth: building relationships. Puente shares the relationships she’s made in the industry have been integral to her success, proving that the industry is filled with “people that are known to be tightly knit with many genuine relationships.”
Myth: You cannot make a good salary as a female construction worker.
Fact: Compared to other industries, the wage gap is significantly smaller in construction.
“Women are in high demand in the construction industry.” – Yanet Sanchez, DP Electric
According to a report done by Payscale.com in 2021, the gender pay gap is still prevalent, with women making roughly $0.82 for every dollar earned by men. That is nearly a 20% difference between wages “regardless of job type, seniority, location, industry, years of experience, etc.” (4). In the construction industry, women make roughly $0.99 for every dollar earned by men, well above the national average.
The trade crafts also pay well, with the craft professionals making $4.8k more than recent college grads without any loans or student debt. You can start earning in the construction industry on day one, even with no prior experience.
“If someone has the desire, there’s lots of opportunity and companies that will want to invest, and specifically in women.” – Danielle Puente, CFO DP Electric
The Greater Phoenix Chamber Foundation’s Construction Workforce Initiative, Build Your Future Arizona’s mission is to create a sustainable and skilled craft workforce by creating awareness about high paying construction careers, training opportunities and mapping career paths to employment in these high demand occupations.