How to Hire and Retain Women in the Construction Workforce

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Robison Wells

Sunday, March 8th, is International Women’s Day, a day that does not celebrate the superiority of women to men, but the importance of gender equality in the workforce and society. But that equality in the construction field is lacking. Women make up 50% of the U.S. labor force, but only 10% of the construction industry.

OSHA has recently taken a keen interest in this topic and has put out a guide for making a construction workplace for friendly to women. And it’s not for nothing—studies show that women in the workplace positively affect the company’s productivity and innovation. A study from Intel and Dalberg Global Development Advisors found a link between diversity and higher revenues.

So what can be done to entice more women to enter an historically male-centric industry? OSHA’s blog lists several highlights:

1. Reach out. Studies have shown that there’s a psychological difference between the way men and women apply for jobs. According to one famous study at Hewlett Packard, it was found that women only applied for a job if they met 100% of the job posting’s requirements, where men applied if they met around 60%. “Men look at a list of requirements and think ‘I can do most of these things’ or ‘I have the potential to be able to do this even though I haven’t done it before,’” the researcher found. “Women look at a job description as if they have to prove that they’ve done all of it before.

2. Include Women in the Hiring Process. Including women in the hiring process, from talent and recruitment, to interviews and onboard, is incredibly important. It makes it easier for women to visualize themselves at the company, and makes them more likely to pursue and accept a job with the company.

3. Provide Networking and Support. Recruiting is one thing, but retention is another. It’s important to show female employees that they are valued. Companies can sponsor women’s events like Professional Women in Construction conferences. They can host dinners where there is open and encourage collaboration with a space to share ideas. An apprentice program is also a great idea, as it shows aspiring female workers that there are already women in construction, making it easier for them to see themselves in the role.

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