Adobe Stock / Stephen Coburn
Adobe Stock / Stephen Coburn

While more women are represented in the construction industry than in recent years, the industry remains male-dominated. Women make up less than 10% of the construction industry's workforce, according to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Many industry experts say much more needs to be done to help young girls consider the construction industry as a viable career option, the Grand Rapids Business Journal reports.

“In a lot of industries, there’s this perception that it is a male-dominated industry,” Monica Steimle-App, executive vice president of real estate development for Rockford Construction, said. “Maybe that provides a fear or a pause of, ‘Is this really something I want to get into?’ I think that the thing for any industry and what’s important to us at Rockford is to break down that barrier. I think it takes getting in front of students and young girls that this is a possibility for them.”

“I would say stereotypes are the biggest obstacle (to construction) both in the community but also in our education system,” Rockford CFO Julie Towner said. “Little girls don’t have a lot of role models in a traditionally male-dominated industry.”

She also agreed the industry has to reach girls at a younger age to raise awareness about the many opportunities and facets in construction.

“If you enjoy doing things with your hands, that can be something you can do,” Towner said. “If you enjoy solving problems, construction is a great industry for you. I would encourage young women that you don’t have to necessarily be building a building. There are so many facets that the opportunities are endless.”

The Associated Builders and Contractors Western Michigan Chapter also recognizes a deficit in women among the ranks of construction professionals, citing again the 9% figure, but lack of capacity has prevented the organization from creating programs that are female specific.

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