Sponsorship, Work-Life Balance, and Training are Key to Attracting and Retaining Women in the Construction Industry
A Survey of women in the construction field and offices provides action items for employers.
The National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) and Ambition Theory announced the release of Building Better, a report based on a survey with 770 women across a variety of construction sectors. The work identifies three main action items for the industry to focus on: providing women with leadership opportunities, investing in training, and prioritizing work-life balance.
Women in construction want to be leaders. Seeing a clear path to career advancement is the most important factor for women with more than one year of industry experience who are seeking new job opportunities. Despite this ambition, women still don’t advance at the same rate as their male counterparts. In fact, 72% of the women surveyed have rarely or never had a woman manager or supervisor. This research reveals a lack of sponsorship as a critical barrier preventing women’s career progression.
“Unlike mentors who offer advice and share stories, sponsors actively advocate for women, extend invitations to key meetings, and invest in their success. By providing exposure to new opportunities and endorsing women’s capabilities, sponsors can play a pivotal role in accelerating women’s path to leadership,” said Andrea Janzen, Ambition Theory Founder and CEO.
Unfortunately, this research shows that women receive sponsorship half as often as mentorship. Companies looking to advance more women into leadership positions should shift from a mentorship mindset, to one of sponsorship. Building Better shares several ways organizations can begin making this shift.
One of the keys to career advancement is training, and this report highlights the need to make training more accessible to women. Young women tend to have less exposure to construction and a great desire to learn, so companies that do provide training not only bring women into the industry but keep them in the industry.
“While salary is the primary motivator for women getting into the construction industry, once they are in, career advancement becomes the reason they stay. Training is one way for companies to show their commitment to providing growth opportunities to their employees,” said Tim Taylor, Director of Research at NCCER.
The study’s other key finding was the importance of work-life balance for women in construction. For the women surveyed, having flexible work options is not about working from home. It is about the availability of work options that balance the needs of employees, team members and the realities of project schedules.
Building Better acknowledges that there will inevitably be differences between flexibility options for office and field employees, but that does not mean improvements can’t be made. The research compiles suggestions employers should consider around workday hours, time off and childcare options.
About NCCER – The National Center for Construction Education & Research is a nonprofit 501(c)3 education foundation created in 1996. NCCER exists to build a safe, productive, and sustainable workforce of craft professionals by providing universally recognized training, assessment, certification and career development for construction and maintenance craft professionals. Learn more at NCCER.org.
About Ambition Theory – At Ambition Theory, we’re dedicated to driving systemic change in the construction industry. We offer leadership training and coaching designed specifically for the construction industry that equips individuals with transformational leadership skills essential for advancement. We believe that it is the responsibility of industry leaders and companies to create a more inclusive and diverse environment, and we work collaboratively with organizations to make this a reality. Listen to our Ambition Theory: Women in Construction podcast and learn more at AmbitionTheory.com.