While women make up 47 percent of the total working population, according to the National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB), they are still underrepresented in the construction industry. Women make up around nine percent of the construction industry—relatively unchanged since 2002. The NAHB used the labor force statistics from the Current Population Survey to examine the state of women in the construction industry.
The number of women in construction was 970,000 in 2002, and that number increased to 1.1 million in 2007. NAHB notes that as the percentage of their representation stayed the same, the real numbers reflected the rest of the construction industry. For example, there was a sharp decline of female workers in construction from 2007 to 2010, dropping by almost 30 percent to 807,000 in 2010. That coincided with the loss of around 2.7 million total construction jobs after the collapse of the housing market. Female construction employment slowly picked up to around 970,000 in 2017, but it is still below the pre-recession level.
Women play several roles throughout the construction industry, including administrative, professional, managerial, construction, and production occupations. According to the Labor Statistics from the Current Population Survey, construction jobs can be categorized into five broad groups. In 2017, women accounted for 73 percent of workers in sales and office occupations, including 421,000 women in office and administrative supportive occupations, and 21,000 in sales and related occupations.
Additionally, over 300,000 women were engaged in management, professional, and related occupations. However, the NAHB notes that only 3 percent of workers in the natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations were women, even though these occupations employ the largest number of employees. The NAHB also found that production, transportation, material-moving, and service occupations only employed around 10,000 female employees.
“As the shortage of labor for the construction industry remains a key issue, adding new workers is an important goal of the industry,” said the NAHB report. “These data show that bringing additional women into the construction labor force represents a potential opportunity for the future.”
Find the full report from the NAHB here.