Women in Construction Week 2024: Women for Metal Construction

Earlier this month, the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) recognized the strength and knowledge of women and the vital role they play in shaping the future of the construction industry during their Women in Construction Week. Stories emerged such as the one about 19-year old Layla Perez, who after working in a grocery store, became a metal trades trainee with the local 22 union in Buffalo, New York. She says working in the metal construction industry has opened doors for her, strengthened her resiliency, and has done things she never thought she’d ever be able to do. Another story highlights Karen Jerge, owner of Integrated Construction Services and Solutions, Inc., who has found business success in the male-dominated field.

Watch their stories here.

While men still comprise the majority of the construction workforce, women are increasingly breaking barriers and making significant strides in various construction sectors. And one such sector that offers tremendous opportunities for women is metal construction. Before Women’s History Month draws to a close, let’s take one more opportunity to delve into what makes today’s metal construction industry a prime market for women to consider employment in. The benefits for women include:

Diverse Opportunities

The construction industry has been called the “great equalizer” due to its accessibility to all genders and backgrounds. Minimal training and education are needed to get started, and there are many job opportunities. Skills such as problem-solving, information evaluation, and decision-making, which studies show women possess, are at the core of construction and vital for a safe, efficient work environment.

Opportunities on a construction site or in management are available to women. On-site, a woman might be better able to react quickly and effectively if something goes wrong, like an injury or equipment failure. From a management perspective, women’s advantage in analytical thinking means they may respond faster than men when project setbacks arise or be better at organizing and delegating.

Equal Opportunity and Inclusion

From career programs for women to changing workplace attitudes, the construction industry is experiencing a complete refresh in its approach to gender diversity. One reason for this is that the field needs more workers. There is also ample research showing the benefits of a diverse workforce in hard numbers. For example, a recent study by McKinsey revealed that organizations with high gender diversity performed 15% better than less varied competitors. 

For more on diversity, revisit this pivotal webinar available through the METALCON Online Education On Demand Library. Heidi Ellsworth with Roofers Coffee Shop, moderates, “Can you Afford NOT to Have Diversity in Your Workforce,” with panelists Tiffany Hutcheson, Brightsmith Coaters, Sonya Malik, Association of Women in Metal, Minnie Robles, ATAS International and Troy Simms with the Atlantic Recycling Group.

Competitive Salaries and Benefits

According to Construction Jobs, “Construction jobs pay women well, and the job outlook for the industry is excellent. On top of nearly equal pay between men and women, construction offers consistently high hourly wages. The average hourly pay is almost $18 for laborers, significantly higher than most state minimum wages. This means workers with little to no post-high school education can earn upwards of $37,000 a year in the construction industry. That is $10,000 more than the average retail employee and $13,000 more than the average waitress.” Demand for more skilled employees is only projected to increase over the coming decades. This means job security is high for these positions. Most come with comprehensive benefits, as well.

Petrochemical engineer working at night for inspector safety quality control. Credit: Construction Jobs

Skill Development and Training

Working in metal construction provides ample opportunities for skill development and training. Whether learning new welding techniques, mastering CAD software, or obtaining certifications in safety protocols, women can continually enhance their skills and knowledge to advance their careers. Many companies also offer apprenticeship programs and tuition reimbursement to support employees in their professional growth and development.

Breaking Stereotypes and Inspiring Others

By choosing careers in metal construction, women can challenge stereotypes and inspire others to pursue their passions, regardless of gender. As trailblazers in a traditionally male-dominated industry, they serve as role models for future generations of women considering careers in construction.

Women have been making more strides especially in management positions, now representing 10.6% of construction managers, up from 7.3% a decade ago. That’s a growth rate of more than 45% for women managers in construction in the last 10 years. This gain in women leaders in construction is particularly apparent in the third-largest metro area in the country, Chicago, where the offices of five major construction companies — Turner, Mortenson, Gilbane, AECOM Hunt and Powers & Sons — are all led by women.  

In metal construction, MetalForming magazine and its parent organization the Precision Metalforming Association (PMA) recognize the importance of women in manufacturing each year with their annual Women of Excellence in Metal Forming and Fabricating. View this year’s 51 honorees, clearly showing how women are increasingly filling critical roles in metal forming and fabricating facilities.

In conclusion, women should consider working in metal construction for its diverse opportunities, equal opportunity and inclusion, competitive salaries and benefits, skill development and training, job security and stability, contribution to sustainable development, and the chance to break stereotypes and inspire others. By entering this dynamic and rewarding field, women can build successful and fulfilling careers while making meaningful contributions to the construction industry and society as a whole. As the industry continues to evolve, the presence and contributions of women in metal construction will only grow stronger, shaping the future of construction for generations to come.

METALCON 2024 for Women

Attending METALCON 2024 can be incredibly beneficial for women seeking further advancement in the metal construction industry for several key reasons: networking, professional development, exposure to innovations, visibility, leadership, staying informed, and empowerment. By actively participating in METALCON, women can position themselves for further advancement and success in the dynamic and thriving metal construction industry. Building upon the success of the METALCON 2023 women’s program, “Metal and Mimosas,” anticipate additional programming dedicated to women at this year’s METALCON event. 

METALCON 2024 takes place is Atlanta, Georgia this fall, scheduled for October 30 – November 1. Get on the list and be first to know when registration is open ⟶

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