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More Women Are Leaving the Construction Industry With Reports of Sexism

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Women in Construction

More Women Are Leaving the Construction Industry With Reports of Sexism

How workplace discrimination is turning away a major segment of trade employees


November 22, 2021
Woman in construction workplace
Image: Stock.adobe.com

In 2020, women accounted for only 10.9% of the construction sector and just 4% of jobs in the field, while 44% of female employees and non-binary tradespeople in construction left or considered leaving the industry due to harassment or a lack of respect in the workplace, Insider reports. 

As an historic labor shortage already threatens the construction trades, a lack of skilled labor due to sexism severely stunts an industry-wide recruiting effort to meet growing housing demand. While 47% of women and non-binary people considered leaving the trades due to workplace harassment and disrespect, parents with children under 18 also considered leaving as a result of inadequate access to childcare. Low outreach for female recruitment could also have a negative impact on a growing labor shortage and on the construction industry as a whole.

More than four in 10 women and non-binary tradespeople who work in construction-related jobs have said they left or "seriously" considered leaving the industry's trades — and nearly half said it's because of harassment and lack of respect.

That's according to a new report from the Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR) and it's bad news for an industry badly in need of more workers: It needs an estimated 61,000 new hires a month over the next three years to meet housing demand.

Kelly Kupcak, Oregon Tradeswomen's executive director, pointed out that women are more likely to be in poverty, citing 2019 data from the National Women's Law Center. "If we don't provide not only career opportunities for women to work in high-wage jobs – many of which are blue collar — but necessary supports," she told Insider, "we will continue to see women segregated into 'pink collar' jobs that perpetuate a cycle of marginalization and economic insecurity." 

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