Needed: Greater participation of women in construction industry

A woman checks her plans at a construction project. (Photo: Serhii Krot, via Shutterstock)

There are more women in the construction industry today than ever before.

Historically, the industry has been dominated by males, and while that is still true today, we are slowly challenging this reality as the number of women in construction is steadily increasing. In 2021, women made up 10.9% of the United States construction industry which is up from 9.9% in 2018.

This momentum is inspiring and is a motivator to continue the work of our many dedicated organizations, such as the Women Construction Owners & Executives (WCOE) California Chapter and the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) of California. As leaders in the industry, WCOE and ABC of California chapters are working tirelessly to recruit, train, and create pathways for women to secure construction careers.

We are striving to increase diversity and inclusion in construction, which means we must advocate for policies that will get us closer to this goal. Therefore, we are proud to support Senate Bill 1115 introduced by Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) which will encourage more women to join the industry. The bill will officially establish a ‘Women in Construction Priority Unit’ and help create pathways for women to secure good, high-paying jobs in construction.

As construction professionals ourselves, we know firsthand that women working together is a crucial factor for success. It is imperative to unite and help each other succeed in this industry, and if SB 1115 passes, we will have access to more resources and supportive services that will help women across the state pursue careers in this ever-growing industry.

It is our duty to encourage women to seek careers in construction just as we do for men. It is a highly valued profession that offers the opportunity to work locally and contribute to the infrastructure that will support our communities for generations to come. Not to mention, the construction industry offers a well-paying career without the cost of a college degree and massive student loan debt.

WCOE has long been a supporter of Capital College and Career Academy in Sacramento. A charter high school that will open its doors in August 2023 with a school-wide focus on construction preparedness and careers. The courses will cover a variety of training including trade work, construction management preparation, and engineering or architectural degrees.

We are proud of the progress that has been made for women in construction, but we know that there is still work to be done. SB 1115 is precisely what California needs to make progress towards achieving a diverse workforce and creating an environment where individual strengths are acknowledged alongside collaboration and inclusion.

We encourage the California Legislature and Gov. Newsom to prioritize women in the Golden State by passing SB 1115 into law.

Editor’s Note: Deborah Wilder is a member of the Associated Builders and Contractors of Northern California, and owner of her own construction-related consulting company, CCMI Inc. Jean Bjork is the president of the California Chapter of Women Construction Owners and Executives and the president of Bjork Construction.  

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