Number of Women in Construction Industry Increasing

More women are entering the construction industry—in some places more so than others.

Construction Coverage ranked U.S. cities based on the share of women in the industry, using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Suitland, Md., and categorizing the cities by size. Most of the cities with higher percentages of female construction employees are located in the South and the West, and some are in the Midwest—but few are in the Northeast. Small and midsized cities have the highest percentage, with Tallahassee, Fla., topping the midsized list with 30.8% and Sandy Springs, Ga., topping the small cities list with 30.7%.

Here are the top 20 large cities with the highest percentage of women in construction: Minneapolis, 19.1%; Seattle, 17.6%; San Francisco, 17%; Washington, D.C., 16.1%; Virginia Beach, Va., 15.5%; Colorado Springs, Colo., 15.4%; Atlanta, 14.6%; El Paso, Texas, 14.1%; Charlotte, N.C., 13.6%; Wichita, Kan., 13.4%; San Diego, 13.3%; Tampa, Fla., 13.3%; Kansas City, Mo., 13.1%; Portland, Ore., 13%; Baltimore, 12.3%; Louisville, Ky., 12.1%; New Orleans, 11.9%; Austin, Texas, 11.8%; Denver, 11.8%; and Columbus, Ohio, 11.7%.

Overall, men still make up the vast majority of the construction workforce, as only about 13% of payroll employees in the industry are women—roughly the same percentage that has been holding steady since the 1990s, according to Census Bureau data. When self-employed workers are added to the mix, the percentage of women in the industry is lower, at 10.3%.

The Associated General Contractors of America, Arlington, Va., and others in the industry are actively working to bring more women to the industry, Brian Turmail, vice president of public affairs and strategic initiatives, told Construction Dive.

“We clearly have much more work to do as an industry to recruit, hire and retain a more diverse population of workers, particularly women,” Turmail said. “The good news is we are heading in the right direction. Moving forward, we’re committed to redoubling our efforts to attract an even more diverse construction workforce.”

Some of the fastest-growing jobs for women are in construction, according to an analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data by Smart Asset, New York. The third-fastest growing job on the publication’s 2020 list is construction manager, with 99,400 women in those positions last year, a 101% increase from 2015. Two additional positions within the top 10 are construction and maintenance painters, which saw a 64% increase to 53,300, and construction laborers, which posted a 50% rise to 71,800.

Still, all three occupations remain male-dominated, according to BLS data. In 2019, the percentage of men holding those positions were 90% or higher.

About the Author

Katie Kuehner-Hebert

Katie Kuehner-Hebert has more than three decades of experience writing about the construction industry, and her articles have been featured in the Associated General Contractor’s Constructor magazine, the American Fence Association’s Fencepost, the...

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