More room for women to break the ‘concrete ceiling’ in construction

In the course of a day, I don’t always have time to stop and read every blog post that rolls through my TweetDeck feed. There are ones where I find the headline really interesting and beneficial, so I’ll just RT the link so our followers will find valuable information.

Last week, one Tweet got my attention immediately:

https://twitter.com/SageConstruct/status/522836627157041152

And apparently, the Tweet caught me off guard so much, that I forgot to RT it at the time. Part of the reason was that I was going to write a blog post about it on the spot. But as things often do at work, I got caught up in other projects and I had to put it aside for a few days.

People in construction

The number of women owning companies or working in executive level positions in construction is rising, but there is still room to improve.

The Tweet links to a post by Deb Carpenter Beck, a member of the Sage Construction and Real Estate marketing team, on their Plumb Bob Square Rants blog. This October marks the 25th anniversary of the Women’s Business Ownership Act, which helps women gain better access to contracts, training, counseling, and capital.

In the post, Deb refers to a Fortune Magazine* article that says women-owned construction companies are on the rise. Also, more women are breaking through the “concrete ceiling” and rising to executive-level positions at other construction companies.

This is a topic our own Construction and Real Estate team follows very closely and takes to heart. Susan Burris, our specialized industry representative, heads Practical Software Solutions‘ team. (She’s a member of CREW Charlotte, an organization that helps influence the success of the commercial real estate industry by advancing the achievements of women. Susan also agreed with some points of the article, too:

“I have seen women in administrative positions such as Project Managers increase over the course of my eight years in this industry,” Susan said. “In addition, we are starting to see more of the second- and third-generation women stepping up into the role of CEO of these construction companies.”

There’s still room to grow for women in construction

Deb points out these numbers may not be as rosy as they first appear, especially compared to other industries:

This is great news, but we also have to put it into perspective. While growing, the percentage of women-owned construction business is still relatively small. According to a 2012 business trends report by American Express Open, only 7.5% of firms in the construction industry are women-owned, compared to 29.2% of firms across all industries. In contrast, the health care and social assistance industry has 52.9% of firms with women at the helm.

Susan also said that she’s not seeing an improvement in the numbers of women participating in the labor force for the construction industry either.

None of us are saying that women should be handed these jobs or positions. Merit and ability should always trump a demographic when it comes to hiring or opportunity. But being in a certain demographic shouldn’t hold someone back either.

In many cases, women hold themselves back from jobs. Sometimes its because there’s a fear that people will make fun of them or doubt their abilities if they go into a non-traditional industry like construction. The other day, I read a telling guest blog post from the Harvard Business Review that finds women will hold their own selves back from applying if they don’t meet 100 percent of the requirements qualifications of any job listing. (On the other hand, men will apply if they meet 60 percent of the requirements.)

An interesting side note is to consider that technology is starting to boom in the construction industry. Tech-savvy women who have degrees in accounting, engineering, architecture, business management or other associated fields may have a better chance finding jobs in construction these days. More and more construction companies are turning to products like Sage 300 Construction and Real Estate to run their business operations. And it will be second nature for women in upcoming generations to use mobile technology, like Sage Construction Anywhere.

With the economy picking up, especially in the construction sector in certain areas of the country, Susan said this is a great time for woman to look at construction as a career choice.

“Due to the ability for women to receive government construction projects by the MWBE statues, it would be very beneficial for more women to enter into this industry,” she said.

* Deb may have originally found the article via a link on Forbes.com, but the link on her blog post goes to Fortune Magazine. It's the same article she referenced.

One thought on “More room for women to break the ‘concrete ceiling’ in construction

  1. winter

    A lot of women cohabit with men in the construction industry and the couple realizes that they can benefit from government subsidies in the general construction industry if the female counterpart is the owner or the business. So they set it up this way and it looks like the concrete ceiling no longer exists, because you have a woman in charge of the construction business. You see this a lot with electrical contractors. However, if you are nothing but a lowly construction worker sent out by the hall to compete with male construction workers, they will scrutinize every single thing you do until you can’t compete. Men continually take shortcuts and violate codes but no one notices because they are men, of course they know what they are doing. If you are a woman, the men will examine everything you do to make sure you didn’t take shortcuts or violate codes, and if you did by chance overlook something, you will hear all about it on that job and the next. 3 jobs later they will be pulling you aside to show you that you did really shoddy work once and you will look at it and realize you weren’t even on that particular project. You think I’m talking about this in 1985 don’t you? Nope. It ‘s 2016.

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