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April 15, 2020
Most people think of construction as a predominantly male industry. Historically, it has been, but that trend is changing. More and more women are choosing construction careers, diversifying the industry and offering an answer to the industry’s long time worker shortage.
Women currently make up only 9.1% of the U.S. construction workforce, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Many factors may be responsible for this disparity. Some experts identify lack of adequate training programs for women interested in pursuing construction careers, while others point to unconscious gender bias as the culprit. In any case, recruiting more women to the construction industry would have real benefits. It would not only introduce more diverse perspectives, creating greater problem-solving and creative capacity, but also address the industry’s current worker shortage.
The BLS projects a 12% increase in construction jobs by 2026, but there simply aren’t enough construction workers to fill these positions. Over the last few years, the construction industry has struggled to overcome worker shortages—a problem that will continue to worsen as demand for construction workers increases. To address this trend, companies need to attract and retain more women and usher in a gender-inclusive era for the industry.
In recent years, the job outlook for women in construction management has improved. The percentage of female construction managers grew from 5.9% in 2003 to 7.7% in 2018, according to the BLS. The BLS predicts more growth in the industry in the years ahead, projecting a 10% increase in construction manager jobs between 2018 and 2028.
Not only are there more jobs than ever before for women in construction management, but the jobs available boast impressive compensation. The median annual wage for construction managers was $93,000 in 2018, according to the BLS. A National Association of Women in Construction study found that women earn an average of 95.7% of what men earn—one of the smallest wage gaps of any professional industry.
The BLS reports that professionals with degrees in construction science, construction management, or civil engineering will see the best job prospects. Women interested in construction careers can also take advantage of the many training and mentoring programs from organizations dedicated to promoting gender equality in the industry. In addition, women looking to pursue construction management careers need to offer the following general skills: leadership, business, problem-solving, initiative, and customer service.
Construction managers are responsible for directing large teams of construction workers and subcontractors. The ability to delegate effectively, provide motivational leadership, and encourage team members to work together effectively is a fundamental skill.
The ability to run and manage a business effectively is an important skill for construction managers. They are responsible for everything from managing budgets to optimizing logistics to hiring competent employees.
Problem-solving is an important part of construction management. Construction managers need to be able to develop in-depth plans that anticipate potential challenges, while also adeptly responding to unexpected issues as they arise.
The BLS projects the construction industry to be one of the fastest-growing industries in 2020. Construction managers need to be proactive in finding new clients to tap into these impressive opportunities.
Creating positive customer experiences is an important part of construction management. Construction managers need to understand how to provide impressive customer service and develop good working relationships with clients, inspectors, vendors, subcontractors, and others involved in the construction process.
Across the world, construction companies build impressive structures, from record-setting urban skyscrapers to sprawling, mixed-use residential developments. These multi-million-dollar projects take more than bricks and blueprints to complete: They require thoughtful, inspiring, and diligent construction managers—including women—who have the technical expertise and visionary outlook necessary for success. The LSU Online Master of Science in Construction Management is designed to help professionals develop these skills and succeed as leaders in the construction industry.