It doesn’t have to be!
Law, high finance, technology, engineering… even science and medicine. In many circles, these industries are viewed as being in the exclusive domain of men. Many are making inroads into changing those views. Banks on Wall Street, for example, are hitting parity when it comes to hiring of men and women.
Other industries aren’t as successful. Technology is a good example. According to author Emily Chang, in her book “Brotopia: Breaking up the Boys’ Club of Silicon Valley”, women represent only 25% of technical hires and receive less than 2% of venture capital funds for startups. And the glass ceiling is staying pretty firmly in place in the C-suite as well. Forbes Magazine indicates that? “Out of the Fortune 500 today, women CEO’s number just 24, down from 32 a year ago.”
Sadly, the construction industry isn’t boasting better numbers… Yet. So what’s it going to take?
A top down change in attitudes
If you want women to be comfortable in your business, you need women at the top and you need to include them as part of your hiring strategy. This can effectively alter the ‘brotopia’ boy’s club that tends to form in male dominated industries.
Engineering programs are graduating women in greater numbers, so the candidates are out there. According to the American Society for Engineering Education: “Females were awarded 19.9 percent of all Bachelor’s degrees awarded by an engineering program in 2015 and made up 21.4 percent of undergraduates enrolled in engineering.” (Source)
After all: “…according to the Peterson Institute, companies who were in the top 25% in gender diversity of their workforce were 46% more likely to outperform their industry average.” (Source)
There’s a bottom line advantage to hiring more women at every level of your organization, but it has to start with an attitude change at the top.
Women need to blaze a trail
As much as construction companies need to lead by example, women have to be willing to blaze a trail if they want to see a change. One of the ways they can do this is to build their own companies within the industry and, by default, have control over the hiring, setting the standard for parity from the get go. It requires confidence to go into an industry that favors men, stand up and be noticed, but it’s worth the effort.
I don’t know who said it, but this is true: “Good things come to those who wait. Better things come to those who work for it.” Every industry can use a little disruption! We can tell our girls they can be anything, but if we’re going to walk the walk, as well as talk the talk, we had best get our work boots on and get to it! At OE Construction, we believe in a balanced workforce that better reflects our society and we are always excited to work with organizations like “Transportation & Construction GIRL”, through the HOYA Foundation, to promote careers in construction for women.
About the author
Terri Olson is an investor and Vice President with OE Construction Corp., a commercial excavation and underground utility contractor. She has worked in the construction industry for over 13 years and brings over 25 years of experience in building and running technology companies. Running a construction company is a lot like a tech company, nothing is ever the same, every day is a new adventure. Her son, Chris Olson, is the founder of OE Construction Corp. and started working in the construction industry in high school. He founded the company at 19 years old and his passion for the people, the equipment, the work and the challenge to excel has kept him going. Chris has brought in new technology over the years and we are now 100% machine control when building large sites and his expertise in working with GPS and drones has taken us to the next level in earthwork, pretty cutting edge and exciting.