Technology Levels the Playing Field for Women in Construction
The construction industry is an essential component of daily life, affecting where people live, work, and travel. However, it has long been considered a male-dominated industry. Despite this, technology is leveling the playing field and opening doors for women to enter and succeed in the field.
As per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, women make up only 10% of the construction industry’s overall workforce, making it one of the least diverse industries for women. However, there is hope, as women continue to shatter glass ceilings and overcome barriers to climb the ranks in construction. According to a recent NAWIC survey, 71% of respondents felt that opportunities for women in construction across professional, trade, and administrative fields are increasing.
Moreover, the gender pay gap is significantly smaller in construction, with women earning 96 cents for every dollar a man makes on average, compared to 84% in other industries. However, there is still a long way to go, as only 44 out of the top 100 construction firms have women in executive positions.
Technology is playing a crucial role in making workplaces more equitable, inclusive, and reflective of society. Off-site and remote work technology, drones, and other tools are being developed to mitigate some of the challenges women face in the industry. Mobile workforce platforms with live-field data-gathering capabilities are helping to address flexibility and accessibility issues. These platforms enable on-site workers to collect and share data on labor hours, task and project progress, delays, equipment maintenance, materials, health and wellness, safety, and more. This gives every worker the information they need to do their jobs more effectively, whether they are onsite, in the office, or working remotely.
Virtual communication tools allow staff and leaders to hold meetings more frequently and save employee time and cost. This also makes meetings more accessible to all, including off-site workers and those with family or health needs. Digitizing forms and processes allows workers to communicate their needs with leadership more effectively, in a private and documented manner.
Utilizing drones, job site safety checks can be conducted before workers arrive on site, identifying potential hazards that on-site employees need to be informed of. Leaders can access aerial videos showing progress updates or monitoring on-site materials and equipment, giving more flexibility for office staff in assessing job sites and increasing safety for all workers.
Safety is an essential factor for women in the industry. Women go through the same training and are held to the same standards as their male counterparts. Still, their job site needs can vary significantly, specifically when it comes to safety, sanitation, and proper fitting personal protective equipment (PPE). Many women in construction have encountered ill-fitting PPE and personal protective clothing, making the availability of PPE that fits women a critical workplace health and safety issue. Progress has been made in recent years, with many construction companies providing a full range of PPE sizes to accommodate all their workers. Exoskeleton technology has also shifted away from unisex models to assist and protect women who are hauling, lifting, bending, reaching, and pulling their weight on job sites.
Overall, technology is taking brute strength out of the construction equation, giving women a chance to seize equal opportunities in the industry. With more accessibility and flexibility in how and where women can work, as well as access to safe, reliable, effective, and comfortable safety equipment, women have the ability to continue to enter and excel in a more inclusive industry.