Women remain underrepresented in the construction industry, although they currently make up almost half (47 percent) of the total working population. The share of women employed in construction has stayed relatively constant, around 9 percent since 2002. Women play a number of roles in the construction industry, such as administrative, professional, managerial, construction, and production occupations. We explore the state of women in the construction industry using the labor force statistics from the Current Population Survey (CPS).
The number of women employed in the construction industry grew steadily, from 970,000 in 2002 to 1.1 million in 2007. However, there was a sharp decline of female workers in construction from 2007 to 2010, when around 2.7 million total construction jobs were lost after the collapse of the housing market. During that period, the number of female construction workers declined by almost 30 percent to 807,000 in 2010. After the Great Recession, female construction employment slowly picked up to around 970,000 in 2017, but is still below the pre-recession level.
It is also important to take a look at where women are working within the construction industry. Hundreds of construction jobs can be categorized into five broad groups, according to the Labor Statistics from the Current Population Survey. Sales and office occupations employed the largest number of women within the construction industry. Women accounted for 73 percent of workers in sales and office occupations, including 421,000 women in office and administrative supportive occupations, and 21,000 in sales and related occupations in 2017. More than 300,000 women were engaged in management, professional, and related occupations. While natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations employed the largest number of employees, women comprised only 3 percent of workers in these occupations. Other groups such as production, transportation, and material moving occupations, and service occupations employed only around 10,000 female workers.
As the shortage of labor for the construction industry remains a key issue, adding new workers is an important goal of the industry. These data show that bringing additional women into the construction labor force represents a potential opportunity for the future.