I recently experienced the most amazing two weeks of my career in construction by giving the keynote address to the regional conference of NAWIC and serving as a panelist at San Jacinto College for 147 aspiring young women interested in the construction industry. The experience was surreal; one week I was discussing women’s minimal involvement in construction (keynote address) and the next week, I was reminded that anything was possible (panelist discussion).
The keynote address featured statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for each respective country and identified the construction woman’s population as follows:
- 2011 – Canada = 11.9%
- 2006 – United Kingdom = 10%
- 2014- United States = 8.9%
Sadly, the United States is last in total number of women in construction between these countries. Perhaps even more shocking is only 3.5% of women serve as construction managers in the U.S. The construction study by the Women’s National Law Center (2013) revealed an even more disturbing trend in women’s growth when compared to other male dominated industries (from 1978-2012):
- Construction was 0.4%
- Physicians, Lawyers, and Law Enforcement was 18%
But thanks to organizations of women who have worked so diligently to assist women in the construction work force, four year construction programs and junior colleges with construction technology education, today’s young woman has multiple opportunities for success in the industry that builds america.
When asked to participate as a panelist it was suggested that the goal was to provide inspiraton, but the inspiration was all mine. I looked into the eyes of these future professionals and saw a condition I refer to as “gender blindness”. These women have grown up in a world made smaller and more accessible by the internet where social equality is the status quo. They believe that they can achieve anything and their self image is as varied as their ethnicity and socio economic status. As I looked across the room and saw all those young faces, I was the one who felt hope and inspired that there is a place for these women in the world of construction and participation can rise.
Thank you ladies and gentlemen who support the growth of women in the industry that I love; and long live “gender blindness”.