In anticipation of Women in Construction Week, the National Center for Construction Education & Research (NCCER) conducted interviews with 176 tradeswomen and analyzed 770 responses to a survey directed to women in the industry. The results have been compiled into a white paper, In Her Own Words: Improving Project Outcomes, which will assist employers with recruiting, hiring and retaining women in craft positions.

“The U.S. economy is at a critical juncture. We need to re-shore manufacturing, decarbonize energy, and upgrade our infrastructure,” said Boyd Worsham, CEO of NCCER. “As we continue to struggle in building a workforce to fulfill these needs, we must recognize that we are not effectively appealing to the largest percentage of the population — women — in our recruiting and retention efforts.”

NCCER’s goal was to go beyond the numbers and statistics that are typically presented in research about women in construction. The white paper highlights the unique benefits women bring to the construction workforce, the obstacles they encounter getting in and staying in the industry, and their advice on what contractors can do to recruit and retain more women.

“Regarding women simply as a way to make up for the quantity gap in the construction workforce ignores the unique qualities they bring to the jobsite,” said Dr. Tim Taylor, Director of Research for NCCER.

Women also shared their recommendations on how to better recruit and retain women on project sites and, ultimately, in the industry. They provided guidance on how to tackle obstacles that the industry has worked on for years and brought up other hurdles that may be surprising for some. Overall, their suggestions were thoughtful and based on their lived experience in the field.

This white paper has been designed to inform and provide steps that can be taken by construction leaders to start making changes today that will improve project outcomes for tomorrow.  

“With an expected shortage of 1.9 million craft professionals through 2025, there is tremendous opportunity for women to get involved in an industry that offers competitive wages, benefits, and career growth,” said Jennifer Wilkerson, NCCER Vice President of Innovation and Advancement. “If we want construction careers to be a viable option for all people, we have to change the culture and perception of our industry, starting with our own projects.”

The complete white paper, In Her Own Words: Improving Project Outcomes, is available for free at https://www.nccer.org/in-her-own-words.