Empowering Women in Building

More builders are working to empower women in the construction industry in the year ahead

By ILEANA HOLGUIN

McCarthy Building Companies, Inc. understands that diversity is essential to be a healthy company. It helps to introduce new perspectives and ultimately drives better outcomes for clients, communities and employees. With a commitment to diversity and inclusion rooted in our culture, McCarthy is dedicated to inspiring the next generation of women in construction.

In today’s workforce, women are grossly underrepresented in the construction industry. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women make up approximately under 10 percent of the construction workforce in comparison to other industries. Why is this? One of the main reasons is due to the lack of education of young women about what a career in today’s construction industry entails and the variety of opportunities for rewarding careers. This knowledge gap around how women can contribute to the construction profession leads to unconscious biases among both genders about women in construction. For example, many view a career in construction as a job for men or that it’s too difficult for women to be successful in a construction role, which are simply not true.

At McCarthy we believe the only way to address this stigma is to understand these biases for both men and women, and work together with others in the industry in the interest of both current and future generations in the construction industry. One important step we are taking is working to introduce young women to the construction industry at an early age. Most women I know, including myself, “fell” into this sector. We didn’t grow up thinking we wanted to be builders. If we present young women with the options at an earlier age, they will have the opportunity to give a career in construction more consideration.

As a part of this effort, we created the McCarthy Partnership for Women, a national employee resource group providing opportunities, support and a network for our female employee-partners. This executive-sponsored and employee-driven group propels the recruitment, development and retention of the best women in the construction industry to broaden McCarthy’s diversity of perspective and offer our female employees opportunities for personal and professional development, internal and external networking, and a platform for sharing goals and exploring solutions. Participants also join in community outreach to young women considering options for their future and fostering a diverse, inclusive workplace within the construction community.

For example, after several lunch and learns at local high schools to discuss the construction industry, the McCarthy Partnership for Women members in Southern California landed on an idea of “Construction 101 Day,” an event that introduces teen girls to the construction industry and teaches them skills they never would have explored otherwise. The event offers participants firsthand insight into various construction career paths, allows them to develop a safety mindset, as well as build self-confidence applicable in all aspects of their lives.

Employees and industry mentors provide the participants with a supportive, hands-on learning experience with the intent of introducing construction as a potential career option for these young women. All participants rotate through a series of stations where they learn basic elements of construction safety, augmented reality, framing and drywall, concrete, proper use of power tools, elevators and electrical wiring. We’ve hosted this event twice in Southern California, and due to its success, we have plans to expand the event to other areas next year including San Diego, Northern California and St. Louis.

While these efforts are making strides toward closing the gender gap for women in construction, there is still a long way to go in communicating the many opportunities of a career in this industry. Construction is a rewarding career that offers a variety of exciting options, including several benefits that are often overlooked, such as competitive salaries and fast career growth. Many companies in the construction industry offer job flexibility for employees who have children or other personal or family commitments. Work in the construction industry offers a great sense of accomplishment, with the opportunity to participate in interesting and stimulating work.

Encouraging young women to consider construction careers is crucial to making sure we have a strong pipeline of talented builders.

Ileana Holguin is a Project Director with McCarthy Building Companies, Inc. During her 19 years with the company and more than two decades in the industry, Ileana has worked on a variety of successful healthcare, education, commercial and parking structure projects in Southern California.Ileana is an active member of McCarthy Partnership for Women, the National Association for Women in Construction (NAWIC) and Women in Construction Operations (WiOPS). To learn more, please visit www.mccarthy.com

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