Maria Manske, Marketing Manager
For WIC Week, The National Association of Women in Construction’s theme is “Envision Equity,” highlighting the need to advocate equality for women in the construction industry. There are many potential steps involved to normalize the presence of women in construction, and it’s possible for everyone in the industry to do their part whether in the field or office.
A good place to start is by challenging the outdated perception that women are unsuited to the construction environment. Why does this perception exist and what are the things we can address to change it? How can we begin the conversation?
Open the door.
Demonstrate the viability of a construction career path for girls and young women. Women who currently hold roles in the industry can pursue mentoring opportunities and other programs with schools, technical colleges, and higher education to provide examples and share success stories. This opens the door and can greatly assist school career counselors and job training program directors. Where possible, include industry partners such as engineers and architects to build programming and outreach.
An example of this is RJM Construction’s work with Minnetonka High School and HGA on the Plymouth Community Center project. Find out more about this initiative from Project Manager Marlee Gartner, who is a nominee for Finance & Commerce’s 2022 Women in Construction Awards.
Encourage and acknowledge.
A little bit of recognition can go a long way. Be welcoming to female team members and co-workers, especially those who are new to the job site or to the company. Being the new “gal” or odd one out on the job site or meeting can be challenging; help team members fulfill their roles to their capacity regardless of gender. Additionally, make sure to take the opportunity to elevate and acknowledge accomplished team members who lead the way for up-and-coming female staff.
Accommodate and adapt.
Companies should do what they can to build a strong work-life balance culture. Working parents must juggle multiple priorities, constantly straddling the line between work and family. Thankfully companies are now addressing work-life balance flexibility and offering parental leave options that work for both the employee and the organization.
Finally, this might seem trivial, but typical PPE can often present challenges to women in the field. To ensure both productivity and safety, include alternative sizing and other options so women can get on with their work without the distraction of inefficient or potentially unsafe clothing.
Support and engage women-owned businesses.
There are many highly qualified women-owned businesses that serve the construction industry. Utilizing their services and engaging their expertise elevates awareness that success stories are out there, and construction is a viable career path for women. Find out how to get more involved and ways to work with these businesses.
These are only a few areas to consider in the effort to make room for and normalize the presence of women in the construction industry.
Perhaps most important, it’s vital that company leaders develop and maintain an inclusive culture.
“This week RJM joins NAWIC’s efforts to raise awareness of women in the construction industry. We know that a strong, skilled workforce is one that is diverse and inclusive. With current labor challenges, perhaps now more than ever it’s crucial to elevate the awareness of the many career opportunities in construction for women, in the field as well as the office. While this week we join in the celebration of women in construction, RJM’s diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts have been and will continue to be ongoing,” said Brian Recker, president.
“RJM is proud to have a highly talented, skilled team across the board. WIC Week is a great opportunity to elevate the achievements of the women on our team, both in the office and the field. We are proud of the outreach and advocacy of those who work to build awareness of the limitless career options available, from the trades to business development and beyond,” said Ted Beckman, senior vice president.
We look forward to the ongoing effort to make more room for women in the construction industry!