Only 5 percent of women occupy the skill trades, which is very low. The percentage is low due to many stigmas and stereotypes concerning women. But even though the numbers are not satisfying, the situation is increasingly getting better. There is always room and opportunity for improvement, and there is always something new to learn when we encounter such statistics when it comes to women. That 5 % number, in reality, represents a great number of skilled women and their opportunities. It also represents the opportunities for any woman that wants to enter that line of work, showing that there are some perspective and the possibility for a positive outcome.
Women have slowly made their way into the traditionally male-dominated jobs and areas, including the construction industry. According to the US Department of Labor, women make up 9.1 % of the workforce in construction. In Canada and the UK the numbers are similar, only slightly higher – just over 11% of the total workforce in construction are women. The numbers have grown over the years – in 2010, there was only 5.9 % of women in construction. This goes to show that change is happening. It does take time, but it is a process that involves entire societies, their standpoints and the levels of awareness of the problem.
First of all, it is important to talk about the problem and spread the word about it. Second of all, even though the number is low, there are women in the construction industry and similar skill trades. The problem is that nobody talks about that aspect. The connotations are always negative when talking about statistics. But the truth is when that percentage is turned into numbers, it looks much higher. One of the problems of women not entering construction industry is not being interested in it due to the lack of visibility of women that are already in that industry – lack or role models.
What has changed today is the fact that many construction companies are firmly interested in hiring women who want to work in this industry, who have mastered the trade and learned the proper skills. The fact that there is a great shortage of skilled laborers, construction workers, also helps in the way that the industry now has no choice but to tap into the other part or the other half of the labor market – women. However, it is not the pure necessity that drives construction companies to hire women. It is also the fact that now while searching for and hiring women, they are witnessing first-hand what they have been missing and neglecting – a quality, high-skilled and valuable female workforce.
Men and women are equally capable of doing this job, but can have different strengths, thrive in different areas and aspects of the job, as well as bring something new to the table. Diversity positively influences working environments and encourages people to cooperate and work more effectively, while learning from each other.
By going deeper into the problematic of this aspect, we actually learn a lot. The situation and the statistics cannot change overnight. It is a process of, for the most part, raising awareness about the gender gap in certain industries such as construction, about the need for equality, equal representation, and about the ways of bridging that gap.