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National Women in Construction Week, March 5-11, celebrates the journeys that women have made to strengthen and highlight their success in the construction trades. In an industry that is historically dominated by men, the week is a chance to pause and appreciate the women who have taken the bold step to enter the construction industry, and also to encourage other women who may be considering it.
At Hitachi Solutions we have a flourishing practice focused on the construction industry and we recognize the need to create, support, and sustain an inclusive culture where differences drive innovative solutions to meet the needs of our customers.
And there’s reason to celebrate: a November article from The Washington Post analyzed findings from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, highlighting a positive trend for tradeswomen in the construction industry. Fourteen percent of construction workers are now women, a significant increase in the past decade:
Source: The Washington Post
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Why highlight women in construction?
Women in Construction Week is a prime opportunity to put the spotlight on efforts to increase diversity and inclusion in the construction industry, where progress is being made, but the representation of women remains low compared to other industries.
And just because more women are beginning to wear hard hats doesn’t mean they don’t continue to face challenges. To name a few:
- Stereotypes and bias— Women are often viewed as not being well-suited for physically demanding and sometimes dangerous work
- Lack of exposure and education— Women are not aware of the opportunities and training programs that are available
- Work-life balance challenges— Sometimes long hours and demanding work schedules in construction can make it difficult to balance work and personal responsibilities
- Unsafe working conditions— Safety risks on the job are more common, in fact, many companies don’t have safety equipment and harnesses that fit women
While these challenges persist, the future holds much promise. Many initiatives are underway to increase the representation of women in construction, and to create a more welcoming and inclusive industry for everyone.
Turning the tide
For those in the U.S., the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act could very well be a game changer for women’s inclusion in the trades. “It feels like this is the moment where all of the preparation that the tradeswomen movement has been making over the years is finally being met with a huge opportunity,” said Ariane Hegewisch, a senior research fellow at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.
As part of the infrastructure bill, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced a new Million Women in Construction initiative in October, when Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo committed to doubling the number of women working in the construction industry over the next decade. The effort seeks to ensure that contractors and companies who access federal funding are employing an inclusive workforce, and opening more doors to women and minorities.
What companies can do
These initiatives are making progress towards increasing the representation of women in the construction industry, but work remains— still, fewer than one in 20 construction workers nationally are women.
There are many ways to help:
- Actively recruit women and underrepresented groups to join the industry
- Ensure training and apprenticeship courses include anti-harassment and anti-discrimination training for all workers
- Support industry associations and organizations, such as the National Association of Women in Construction, that promote women in construction and raise awareness about the need for diversity
Constructing an inclusive company
Hitachi Solutions is always striving to bring awareness to diversity and inclusion for women and all underrepresented factions of the workforce through our cultural employee programs like Konsei Women, where we provide mentorship, leadership programming, and support for female professionals in our company.
To learn more about how Hitachi Solutions supports building a more diverse and inclusive workforce, visit our website. Also, follow us on LinkedIn to see how we promote gender equality and celebrate employee differences every day.