July 29, 2022 in Uncategorized

Laura Helke

During the COVID pandemic and the economic upheaval it caused, many millions of people have chosen to change jobs, or even stop looking for work altogether. To get a clearer picture of the Construction job market and how it relates to women looking for work in that field and others, I took a look at how employment numbers have differed for men and women, and then focused it down to the construction field, specifically. 

This gives us context for how the raw statistics of women in construction may have been influenced by other market and societal forces, and what other attendant statistics and data can show us about predictive or analytical models based on the extant data.

Women in the Workforce

Women behave differently in the workforce, as represented by raw data.

  • Women change employers 10% more often than men.
  • Women represent 51.8% of management and professional fields.
  • Women earn 82% of average male wages.
  • $821/week for women vs. $1,007/week for men.
  • Roughly 64% of women who work do so full-time.
  • 9.7% of women in the workforce are in a Union.

These data provide context as we move into women in the construction fields.

Women in Construction

We will look through several lenses when evaluating women in the construction fields. First, some basic construction field statistics:

  • 4 years: median time spent with an employer in construction fields.
  • $37,520 per year median pay for construction Laborers and Helpers.
  • $98,890 per year median pay for construction Management.
  • 1,514,200 jobs in Labor, 448,000 in Management, in 2020.

This provides us with a few key correlations. The first, that the turnover for the construction fields is just a little lower than the average turnover for women in general. It also offers us an interesting area for possible corollary, in that we’ve seen that women are more likely to enter management than labor, and that management in construction offers substantially higher pay.

Next, a close-up of the construction field as it pertains to women.

  • 9% of construction workers are women.
  • That constitutes only 1.5% of the entire US workforce.
  • Some data show up to 10.9% of workers are women, depending on job-code.
  • Adjacent fields have higher percentages:
  • Women represent 20.4% of manufacturing jobs.
  • 26.2% of agriculture jobs.
  • 24.1% of transportation/utilities.
  • And 15.8% of mining jobs.
  • Percent represents over 800,000 jobs for women in construction.
  • 200,000 jobs were “production” (labor, electricians, etc.).
  • 50% job growth for women in construction from 2014-19.

Women’s percentage of jobs are done by women.

  • Appx. 80% of office jobs in construction are held by women.
  • 25% of sales jobs.
  • 25% of “protective services” (security, quality control, etc.).
  • Less than 20% of “Professional” and “Management and Finance” jobs are held by women.
  • And less than 5% of Transportation, Extraction, and Maintenance jobs are held by women.

This gives us slightly counterintuitive data points. While in other fields, women make up just over half of the management roles, in Construction, those numbers are vastly different. This comes mostly from what the Bureau of Labor and Statistics refers to as the requirements for Construction Management, including that “firms may prefer to hire candidates who have both construction experience and a bachelor’s degree in a construction-related field.”

This on the job experience and degree in the related fields present two barriers to women entering construction management. As we see from the previous data, women represent the overwhelming majority of “office jobs,” while a stark minority of labor and on-site jobs. These conclusions will be questioned below.

Lacking on-site experience prevents anyone, male or female, from entering management in construction. However, when we look at the next data set, from a slightly different angle, we get another picture.

What Percentage of Women are in each field.

  • 44% of construction women are in professional or management roles.
  • 28% of construction women are in sales or office roles.
  • 21% of construction women are in service-related roles.
  • 6% of construction women are in production, transportation, or material moving roles.
  • 1% of construction women are in natural resource, maintenance, and construction trade roles.

Comparing the two previous sets of statistics we see that while 80% of office jobs are held by women, that constitutes only 28% of the women in construction. This reflects the much smaller number of office jobs in construction than other fields, and also shows that only looking at what percentage of jobs are held by women can be misleading.

Taken another way, only looking at what percentage of “management” is done by women, we could be tempted to think women rarely enter construction management, when in fact, a larger share of women are in management roles than in office roles.

Another aspect to consider: 13% of construction firms are owned by women. Again, this belies perceptions that women in construction are narrowed to “labor” and “office” roles.

Earnings in Construction

There exists in construction a substantial pay-gap among men and women, like in many other industries.

  • Women in management made 14% less than men.
  • 26% less in general construction.
  • And women in architectural/engineering management made 22% less than men.

Some data aren’t as nuanced as examining by positions, with one industry publication aggregating all industries, and computes that the median income for women in construction is $46,808 versus $43,394 for men. That’s a difference of:

  • $3,414/year, or;
  • $284.50/month, or;
  • $0.17/hour, or;
  • Just over 7% higher than men.

What Women Say

In early 2021, a survey was conducted of women actively working in construction. The sample size (1001 women) was large enough to statistically represent the demographic. Some of the highlights follow.

What Type of Company Do You Work For?

  • 44.55% worked for subcontractors.
  • 37.17% worked for a General Contractor.
  • 10.71% worked for suppliers.
  • 4.65% worked for Architects or Engineers.

What Percentage of your Company are Women?

  • 27.2% of respondents said only one or two percent of their company are women
  • 22.4% said that about ten percent are women.
  • 18.9% said about a quarter are women.
  • 15.4% said about five percent.
  • 10% said half are women.
  • 1.4% said their companies were all women.

What percentage of women at your job are in Management roles?

  • 67.8% said 1 woman out of 10, or less, were in management roles.
  • 18.1% said that between a quarter and half of women were in management.
  • 5.1% said that all the women in their company were in management.

What is your role at your company?

  • 50% said their job was Managerial, President, PM, Executive, or Director.
  • 39.8% said Office Admin., Admin. Assistant, Sales, or Accountant.
  • Only 7.7% said Laborer, Tradesperson, or Controller.

These data are important because, while it does show that many women are taking leadership roles, it also shows that there is a dearth of women on the actual job-site, especially in the trades, with only 1.1% of respondents identifying as tradespersons.

How Women in Construction Feel About their Jobs

These data are, of course, more subjective than quantitative data. Though they can be quantified, whether a person “Strongly Agrees” that they enjoy their job is still qualitative. As such, I have only included some of the responses. Click here to read the full article.

  • Over 60% of women Agree/Strongly Agree that studied or received training for their job.
  • Over 90% Agreed to some extent that they have access to more training and that their job supports that.
  • While over 70% say they have opportunity to advance, over 30% say they would have more opportunity if they were men.


  • Over 60% said they disagreed to some extent that they had received inappropriate comments or attention from coworkers.
  • Over 60% said they would feel comfortable addressing/stopping harassment.
  • Over 80% said they felt their supervisors would support them if they did report.


Another survey, with a smaller sample size (~700), found that:

  • 71% of women in construction feel that their opportunities are increasing.
  • 28% said they were decreasing.
  • 1% said they were about the same.

Where Women Work

Next we’ll break down where women are working in construction, and the top five major cities for women in construction by percentage of the construction workforce.

  • #5 Virginia Beach, VA with 15.5% of the construction workforce as women (2,187 women).
  • #4 Washington, DC at 16.1% of total, or 1,831 women.
  • #3 San Francisco, CA at 17%, or 2,985 women.
  • #2 Seattle, WA at 17.6%, or 2,697 women.
  • #1 Minneapolis, MN with 19.1% of the construction jobs held by women, coming in at 1,298 women, total.

We are told two stories at the same time, here. In the first, it tells us that while Minneapolis has the highest percentage of women in construction, San Francisco actually has the highest total number of women. 

Finding data on what women earn by field (construction) filtered by region or city is more difficult, as I could find no extant data. I did, however, cross-reference the above major cities with a database of gender pay equality found here. In order from worst to first, we have:
  • #4 Seattle, WA, with a 22% pay gap, coming in at $15,000 in real income lost by women.
  • #3 Minneapolis, MN with an 18% pay gap, or $10,700 difference.
  • #2 San Francisco, CA, with a 17% gap, or $13,200 difference.
  • #1 Virginia Beach/DC, with a 14% pay gap, at $10,200 difference.

Again, we see two stories. In the first, the gap in San Francisco is $2,500 more than in Minneapolis, but we need to keep in mind that that reflects how much more money people make in San Francisco, because the percentage gap is still small there.

Taking these two data sets into account together, we can see that while a woman might be part of a larger percentage of the total construction workforce in a city like Minneapolis or Seattle, they be part of a larger community with higher pay in San Francisco or Virginia Beach/DC.


While the number of women in construction has come up over the decades, the snapshot of the last few years tells us that the percentage of women in those fields is still far below the national averages for women in other fields. 

Also, we find that women are not more likely to leave a construction job than they are to leave any other job, nor are they more likely to leave a construction job than anyone else is. Moreover, we find that women are increasing their opportunities in key cities, as well as taking more lucrative managerial roles. While many women feel they can receive more training if they want it, it appears that very few of them are taking that training into the field (laborers, specialists, or tradespersons).

About the author 

Laura Helke

Laura has been writing for women's magazines and websites for over 10 years and knows a thing or two about what it takes to make women feel their best. Laura is also a qualified health coach and loves nothing more than helping women to reach their health and happiness goals.

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