How To Be an Ally for Women in Construction

March 04, 2024
John Meibers
John Meibers
VP & GM of Deltek ComputerEase
Group of industrial engineers working with a computer outdoors

As we celebrate Women in Construction Week, it’s important to note that the construction industry has long been perceived as a male-dominated field. Still, times are changing, and more women are entering the sector. However, challenges and barriers still exist, making it crucial for both men and women to actively support and promote gender diversity. In this blog, we'll explore ways to be an effective ally for women in the construction industry, fostering an environment that encourages diversity, equality and success. 

Understand the Challenges

Before diving into the ways to be an ally, it's essential to understand the challenges women often face in the construction industry. Recognizing and empathizing with these obstacles is the foundation for building a supportive and inclusive environment. Some of these obstacles include: 

  • Stereotype Bias: Women entering the construction industry often face deeply ingrained stereotypes that portray it as a male-centric domain. These biases can manifest in various ways, from questioning their technical competence to assuming they are not suited for physically demanding tasks. As an ally, it is essential to be aware of these stereotypes and actively challenge them. 
  • Limited Opportunities for Advancement: The construction industry has historically provided limited opportunities for career advancement for women. Glass ceilings persist, hindering their progression into leadership roles. Understanding these barriers means acknowledging the need for systemic changes that ensure equal opportunities for professional growth, recognition and leadership positions. 
  • Underrepresentation: Women remain underrepresented in various roles within the construction sector. From project management to skilled trades, the lack of representation can contribute to a sense of isolation and hinder career development. As an ally, it is important to actively support initiatives that aim to increase the recruitment and retention of women in all facets of the industry. 
  • Exclusive Workplace Culture: Construction sites have traditionally been characterized by a culture that may not always be inclusive. Harsh language, inappropriate jokes and a lack of sensitivity to diversity can create a hostile environment for women. Recognizing the importance of a positive workplace culture and actively promoting respectful communication is integral to supporting women in their professional endeavors. 
  • Lack of Role Models: A lack of visible female role models in the construction industry can contribute to a perception that these careers are not for women. Allyship involves actively promoting and celebrating the achievements of women in construction, providing aspiring individuals with inspiring figures to look up to and emulate. 
  • Challenging Workplace Conditions: The physical demands of construction work can be particularly challenging for women, especially when workplace conditions are not designed with their needs in mind. Ill-fitting personal protective equipment (PPE), inadequate restroom facilities and a lack of accommodation for pregnancy or childcare can create additional hurdles. An ally recognizes the importance of adapting workplace conditions to be more inclusive. This includes advocating for PPE that fits properly, ensuring accessible and clean restroom facilities, and supporting policies that accommodate the unique needs of female workers, such as maternity leave. Improving workplace conditions not only ensures the well-being of all employees but also contributes to a more welcoming and supportive environment for women in construction. 

Promote Inclusivity

Create an inclusive work environment by actively promoting people from all walks of life. Encourage open dialogue about diversity and inclusion, emphasizing the importance of equal opportunities for all. Be mindful of language and behaviors that may perpetuate stereotypes or make others feel unwelcome. By fostering a culture of inclusivity, you contribute to a more supportive atmosphere for everyone. 

Advocate for Equal Opportunities

Become an ally to help advocate for equal opportunities for women in the construction industry. Support initiatives that focus on recruiting, training and retaining women in construction roles. Encourage employers to implement fair hiring practices and provide equal opportunities for career advancement. By actively supporting gender equality, you contribute to breaking down barriers that may hinder women's progress in the industry. 

Provide Mentorship and Networking 

Offer mentorship to women in the construction industry. Mentorship provides guidance, support and a valuable connection that can help women navigate their careers more effectively. Encourage networking opportunities for women within the industry, helping them establish connections that can lead to professional growth and advancement. One of the many industry associations available to join is the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC), which has more than 115 chapters throughout the US.   

Amplify Women's Voices

Ensure that women's voices are heard and valued within the workplace. Actively seek out and amplify the ideas, perspectives and achievements of women in the construction industry. This can be done through meetings, presentations or other forums where contributions are acknowledged and celebrated. By recognizing and amplifying women's voices, you contribute to a more inclusive and diverse workplace.  


“I believe that women have a vital role to play in the construction industry. We bring different perspectives, skills and experiences that can enhance the quality, creativity and innovation of the projects we work on. Diversity is not only a matter of fairness but also a matter of excellence.”

– Maribel Scarnecchia, Director of Consulting, Deltek ComputerEase


Challenge Gender Stereotypes

Take a stand against gender stereotypes that may persist in the construction industry. Challenge preconceived notions about what roles are suitable for men or women. Encourage a shift in mindset that recognizes individuals based on their skills, qualifications and abilities rather than their gender. By challenging stereotypes, you contribute to a more progressive and equitable work environment.  


Empowering Women in Construction

Hear from women in the construction industry about the challenges they have faced and how they overcame them.

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Being an ally for women in the construction industry is not just about gender equality; it's about fostering a collaborative and innovative environment that benefits everyone. By challenging stereotypes, promoting equal opportunities, providing support and amplifying voices, we can build a more diverse, inclusive and successful construction industry for all.