The photo of a man with a hard hat holding drawings or a power tool is still the stereotypical image for a construction worker. Since its advent in 1998, Women in Construction (WIC) Week has worked to highlight the different journeys taken by women to achieve the same goal and amplify the success of women in the construction industry. Featuring the theme, “Many Paths, One Mission,” this year’s WIC is March 6-13.
According to House Grail, the average construction site in the United States features a nearly 11 percent female workforce. Women working in construction and trades earn 30 percent more than those working in women-dominated jobs. Construction companies that employ women have a 25 percent possibility of achieving above-average profitability, compared to those firms without women.
Still, as reported in SaltWire Network, “the skilled trades and construction industry sector … suffers from the Old Boys club culture, which needs to change, and is slowly changing, but remains a barrier to entry for many young women.”
This is not the case at Lutherville-based MacKenzie Contracting Company, a full-service general contracting company and part of The MacKenzie Companies. It features a workforce that is presently 30 percent women, including project managers, project coordinators and business development professionals.
“Each time we recruit for a new position within our company, we strive to select the most experienced and highly qualified professional that also fits within our corporate culture,” explained Marty Copsey, President/COO & Principal, MacKenzie Contracting Company. “Increasingly, this has resulted in the hiring of a woman and we consistently find a rich talent pool locally from which to draw highly qualified candidates.”
“We have arrived at a point in which interacting with women on the job site is not an unusual occurrence and no longer creates a second thought. The rapid increase of women working in architectural, engineering, development and other real estate executive positions has accelerated this surge in the construction arena. It has been said that women are generally more compassionate and better listeners than their male counterparts, which adds important perspectives and insights towards the smooth delivery of construction projects.”
The Washington Post reported last year that 14 percent of all construction workers in the U.S. are now women, representing an all-time high, a figure that has consistently risen since 2016, with data compiled by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. In October 2009, approximately 13.5 percent of all construction workers were women which, according to Construction Dive, was the second-highest total ever recorded. The Post article states that Washington, D.C., at 17.6 percent, leads the country in the share of women holding construction-industry jobs, with Maryland holding the number 8 ranking at 13.4 percent.
Kristen Schrader, Project Development Manager, Harkins Builders encourages women in construction to “sit at the table, because you have a seat. Take up space, because you have a right to be here. Speak up, because your voice needs to be heard… Since entering the construction industry in 2003, I have experienced imposter syndrome, as many women do. My biggest advice to my fellow women in construction is to be your best self every day and don’t hold back. Seeing more women in the office, the field and at the table has not only been empowering for me, but has also started to break down the stigma that construction is just for men.”
“Due to the stereotype of this field being a male-dominated industry, many times women are not taken as seriously or questioned whether we truly know what we are doing,” said Sara Pollacco, Senior Project Manager for MacKenzie Contracting Company. “I have been mistaken for having a role on the ownership or tenant side and not often assumed to hold a project management role on the contracting/construction side.”