Construction has long been an extremely male-dominated field, with women making up just 9% of the construction industry in the US. While that figure is growing, for
A woman in construction plays many roles within her company and brings several benefits to the table. While everyone is different and has their own strengths, there are some common skills that many women can offer their employers. Take a look at this list and think about where you see yourself.
(And for the guys reading this – I know these are generalizations and there are plenty of men who have these skills too. We do our best work together when everyone has found their own niche where they can shine.)
A Unique Perspective
Women tend to be good at considering another person’s point of view. In construction, this has value because they are able to see the building as more than just thousands of dollars’ worth of concrete, steel, and glass that will take a year to build – they can visualize it as a place that people will work, socialize, and live.
When you can see beyond the numbers of a project, you can help shape it into a place people want to be, instead of focusing purely on function. The outcome is a space better suited to the needs of the end user; and what client doesn’t want that? If this is one of your strengths, you might enjoy working in a role where you can help guide the final design, such as architecture, design, or even project management.
Communicate, Facilitate, Collaborate
Another area women tend to excel in is communication. Being able to explain the need for a particular design feature to a non-technical client, find consensus amongst the project team, or bring different disciplines together towards a shared goal are just some of the benefits gained by having a strong communicator in the team.
No project is brought about by one person alone. That’s why someone who can facilitate group discussions to find the best way forward and foster collaboration is such an asset. If you’re a strong communicator, you might find that a client-facing, managerial, or project management role suits your natural talents.
Construction is about more than just building structures, it’s also about building relationships. Like most businesses, the quality of the relationships you develop will directly impact your company’s success – or failure.
Building strong business relationships tends to go hand-in-hand with effective communication and is another area where women can help a company succeed. Perhaps you would do well in a commercial role such as quantity surveying or estimating, where you can help build the supply chain with reliable subcontractors and suppliers. Business development might also suit you, where you can help create strong business partnerships to enable your company to take on larger projects.
Nearly every construction-related company is facing the same problem: a lack of skilled staff and new workers entering the profession. That is why it’s so important for companies to identify and nurture potential in their employees, irrespective of gender.
Women are often natural teachers, viewing every person as a work in progress. By recognizing that, you can help others identify their strengths and find a role where they can excel. No matter where you want to work in construction, the ability to develop others is a gift that will benefit you, your colleagues, and your firm.
Putting It All Together
Whatever your particular strengths are, there is a role for you in construction – one where you can succeed and do your best work. If you understand how those strengths benefit your company, you’re in a better position to find the right role for your talents.
If you’d like to take a deeper dive into what I call the “business of yourself” in the world of construction, I’ve developed an interactive workshop that helps women obtain a better understanding of themselves in the world of construction. In my Women in Construction: It’s business, let’s not skirt the issues program, I’ll equip you with proven strategies to help you identify and give meaning to your own strengths, handle situations professionally, and position yourself as a leader both inside and outside of your firm.