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Despite Benefits, Women Aren’t Joining NY’s Construction Industry

Ask a sample of young girls what they dream of doing when they grow up, and you will likely hear a wide variety of answers, ranging from “princess” to “teacher” to “doctor” to “professional athlete.” In all likelihood, however, “construction worker” will not be among the answers given.   

That is unfortunate, because construction jobs can be great for women. Female construction workers enjoy competitive pay, benefits and reliable jobs in a field that is constantly growing. The industry also enjoys near-equality in wages between gender and race. With such advantages, why aren’t more women joining the construction industry?

Where Are Women in the Trades?

In the #MeToo era, many women are gaining stronger footholds in industries typically dominated by men. Yet, the construction industry lags behind with very little growth in the female workforce --- steady at about three percent.

In a recent Crain’s opinion piece, Pamela Shifman posits that the lack of female construction workers should concern everyone. Shifman is the executive director of NoVo, a nonprofit that focuses on ending the subordination of girls and women.

According to Shifman, women’s absence from the trades limits their opportunities to stable income and a place in the middle class. At the same time, a workplace without enough women fuels a culture of abuse and harassment. Hostility from coworkers, discrimination, insufficient training and inadequate access to restrooms affect women’s ability to perform on the job – and prevents more women from entering the industry.

While the industry grapples with inclusion, the small sisterhood of women in the construction industry does important work despite these obstacles. We extend our support to these workers and encourage any women affected by workplace harassment or on-the-job injuries to get in touch with a qualified attorney. 

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