Women in Construction Week 2023: How Women Are Rising Up in a Male-Dominated Industry

To mark Women in Construction Week 2023, this report celebrates the progress being made for women in the industry, as well as exploring what else can still be done.


There are currently just under 1.3 million women who work in the construction industry in the U.S., which amounts to 10.9% of the total workforce. This is a 3.5% increase compared to the previous year. The construction industry remains vastly dominated by men, but as statistics show, women are rising up in numbers, power, and recognition.

To celebrate Women in Construction Week 2023 (March 5-11) and this year’s theme of “many paths, one mission”, we have spoken to women who are at the forefront of the industry, spearheading the way for women to become more commonplace in all areas of this sector. Women in Construction Week is a way of bringing awareness and celebrating the role of women in the industry. We have also compiled and broken down the latest statistics to give an overview of the current landscape and highlight the scope of the progression being made.

Women in Construction Week 2023 Key Statistics

We have taken the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to visually share the state of affairs for women in the construction industry. Below we explore the rise in the number of women in the industry, the job roles women hold, the distribution of women’s roles compared to men’s, the drop in unemployment rates, and the states which have the most women working in construction.

The number of women in construction jumps almost 53% in the last decade

Over the past ten years, there has been a continuous upward growth in the number of women employed in the construction industry. In total, the numbers have increased by 52.9%, from 840,000 women in 2013 to 1.28 million women in 2022. Jocelyn Knoll, Partner at Dorsey & Whitney LLP, says “There are more women who have a seat at the table and on-site. This is a good time for women to enter the construction industry, whether as a tradesperson, construction manager, team member, architect, engineer, executive, consultant, or professional.”

Not only this, the more initiatives now available for women are making it easier for them to enter the industry. Guiomar Obregón, CEO and Co-Founder of Precision 2000, Inc, says “There have been more initiatives to help women get into construction like mentorship programs, diversity and inclusion training, and women’s construction associations. The rise of these kinds of initiatives is crucial to keep the momentum going and give more opportunities for women in male-dominated fields.”

“There are more women who have a seat at the table and on-site.”

Jocelyn Knoll

Also contributing to the rise in the number of women in the industry is the fact that there is greater awareness of both the opportunities and the need for more education. Joan Barton, General Contractor at Dirty Girl Construction, comments on this saying “I have noticed an increase in the number of women who contact me about working in construction, which is a direct result of women being publicly recognized on numerous outlets. This has also translated into a general awareness about the need for earlier education and opportunity, as well as a specific outreach by some companies to train and hire more women.”

Sales and management roles are still the most common for women in construction

The above graphic shows the distribution of women in the construction industry based on the type of job role they hold. Currently, most women are employed in management, professional, and related occupations and sales and office occupations, with 436K (36.1%) working in each sector.

“I’m seeing more and more tradeswomen on job sites”

Sondra Friestad

In natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations we find 316K women, which is 24.6% of the female workforce. Compared to the previous year, there are now 43K more women working in this type of role. That is an increase of 15.7%. This increase has been noticed by Sondra Friestad, President of NAWIC Sacramento and Superintendent/Site Project Manager at CSI Construction. She says that she is “seeing more and more tradeswomen on job sites such as electricians, safety inspectors, fire marshals, pipe fitters, equipment operators, traffic control, etc., as well as more professional engineers, construction managers, project executives, and overall, women-owned subcontracting companies, which is very exciting.”

The least number of women work in roles related to service occupations (16K, 1.2%) and to production, transportation, and material moving (26K, 2%), which despite the low percentage, has seen a tremendous increase compared to the 11K in this role in 2021.

“Women can swing a hammer just as well as their male counterparts can”

Taylor Norris

Taylor Norris, Primary Owner of Smitty's General Contractors, feels that gender doesn’t define capability by saying that “Women can swing a hammer, climb on roofs, tear off & install a roof, lead a crew, create a safe workplace environment, create a well-rounded client experience just as well as their male counterparts can.”

Men continue to outnumber women in 4 out of 5 occupational areas

In the above graphic, we can clearly see a difference in the number of job roles that are held by men and women. The only area of the construction industry where there are more women than men is in sales and office roles, where women occupy a majority of 72.2% of the positions. Despite slight increases over the last year, men outweigh women the most in natural resources, construction, and maintenance roles by 95.9% to 4.1%.

“Education is an important part to encourage more women to join construction.”

Guiomar Obregón

Many people working in the industry believe that a historical lack of awareness and education has led to these big differences. Obregón says that “Education is an important part to encourage more women to join construction.” Friestad agrees and believes that “With the support of companies and communities becoming more engaged in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the construction industry promoting women in construction, we have a greater opportunity to see these numbers continue to increase.”

“It never occurred to me that I couldn’t be a General Contractor because I’m a woman”

Joan Barton

Barton suggests the need to separate the issues of gender and job roles entirely, explaining that “We need to stop gender-defining the industry or crippling underrepresented demographics by combining gender+job title as a descriptor because it sideshows a person. That, in and of itself, further creates a perceived obstacle, or edge up, to success.” She continues to draw on her perception of this matter, saying “It never occurred to me that I couldn’t be a General Contractor because I’m a woman any more than it would occur to me that I could become a nurse because I am a woman. So, simply put, I am a General Contractor. I am a woman. These are two distinctly different things about me that should remain in separate sentences.”

Unemployment rate for women is at its lowest in at least 20 years

In general, there is a labor shortage in the construction industry. In at least the last 20 years, unemployment rates for women in construction are at their lowest at 3.4. When asked if the need for workers has contributed to more opportunities for women to take vacant positions, Obregón simply claims “Unquestionably.” She goes on to comment that “More job openings mean more opportunity for everyone, including women. There are also a growing number of female leaders in construction, who are inspiring young women to join the field.”

Friestad points out that “I believe that due to industry labor shortages women are perhaps given more of an opportunity [...]“. Yet this is not the only reason. Other factors can contribute to this fall in unemployment.

It is also worth noting that many job opportunities have been filled by Hispanic women in recent years, overtaking all other ethnic groups. Hispanic women make up 2.5% of the entire construction workforce as of August 2022.

Washington D.C. has the highest percentage of women in the industry

When breaking down the percentage of the total number of women in construction in each state, we see that there are some differences across the country. D.C. boasts the biggest percentage with 17.6% of its total construction workforce being women. This is much higher than the national average of 10.9%. Elsewhere, Arizona (15.6%) and Florida (14.5%) also have high percentages of women in the construction workforce. There are also quite a few states that fall below the national average and where a lack of diversity remains an issue, the lowest being Delaware, where only 6.8% of construction workers are women.

With these differences across the country, it is good to know what is being done to further increase diversity and what improvements can still be made.

The gender pay gap is one of the smallest of all industries

One key statistic to also mention is the gender pay gap. While unfortunately men and women in construction are not equal in this aspect, it is one of the smallest differences across all industries in the U.S. The average gender pay gap in the U.S. results in women earning 82.9% of what men do, however in the construction industry this is significantly higher at 95.5%.

Industry Insights from Women in Construction: Challenges & Progress

The sections below feature responses from women we interviewed who work in the construction industry in order to get their insights on the current situation. They share their thoughts and opinions about the biggest challenges for women and how to overcome them, what has changed in recent years, and their advice for future generations wanting to join the industry.

What are the advantages of being part of an association?

In the construction industry, there are a lot of different organizations and associations that women can join. There is a strong network of support available to those who are interested in continuing to break barriers. Organizations like The National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) and Professional Women in Construction (PWC) offer support, leadership, and networking opportunities as well as scholarship and mentorship programs.

As President of the Sacramento Chapter of the NAWIC, Friestad says that “membership helps you grow and flourish, personally and professionally. Women in construction join NAWIC for many reasons. For some, it's to be part of a network of like-minded women facing the challenges and the opportunities of a career in the construction industry. For others, it's a chance to learn more about technical or leadership skills.”

Obregón is a founding member of the Georgia Hispanic Construction Association as well as a co-founder of its Latinas in Construction group. She says that “The group has opened the conversation to talk about accomplishments, challenges, glass ceilings, discrimination, safety, and ways to break the mold of people who build. The GHCA helped bring together a fragmented industry during the Great Recession, and also provided support during the pandemic. Being a member of such groups helps all of us face challenges and discover opportunities in a supportive environment.”

Crystal Felch, Field Engineer at Greiner Construction, notes the advantages of being part of an association herself; “I’m part of AWC (Association of Women Contractors) and it’s amazing to hear from women who own their own construction companies and the challenges/successes they’ve had.”

Other associations, like Women Construction Owners & Executives USA (WCOE), maintain a strong presence on Capitol Hill to help shape policy for women-owned and women-led companies in the industry.

How can Gen Z women learn about joining the construction industry?

One way to continue the progress being made in the industry, in general, is to make sure that younger generations are aware of the opportunities that are available to them. Debra L. Hilmerson, President/CEO of Hilmerson Safety® believes that what is needed is “More education and trade classes in the school system and to encourage young girls to participate.”

Friestad advises people to get involved, saying that one of the aims of the NAWIC is the “want to bridge the gap between seasoned members and new members by providing a mentorship program, events, trainings, and other resources.”

“More education and trade classes in the school system and to encourage young girls to participate.”

- Debra Hilmerson

Obregón believes the best way younger generations can learn about working in construction is “Through articles like this, along with social media, speaking opportunities, fellowships, and mentoring, we can speak to members of GenZ and teach them about our industry. [...] Being involved in schools is critical.”

She goes on to say who she believes holds the responsibility of making this happen; “Ultimately, it is up to companies like ours to talk with young women, welcome them into our industry, and help them reach their potential.”

What can still be done to improve the industry?

While big strides have been made over the past decade, there is still more that can be done to improve equality, diversity, and awareness for women in construction. Obregón says that “Mentorships, associations, and workshops are a great start. I think that diversity is becoming the norm and hopefully, with time, there will be no need for special outreach programs anymore.”

“Women need to get reached out to more to let them know they’re needed in the construction field.”

Crystal Felch

Felch believes that letting women know of the opportunities that are available to them can still go further, saying that “Women need to get reached out to more to let them know they’re needed in the construction field. Talking to them at career fairs, using photos of women in promotional content, etc.”

Experiences and advances vary greatly, of course. Norris believes that a lot can be improved within the industry itself, commenting that “Overall, women need a place at the table. They need to feel valued with what they can bring to that table. They need to feel empowered that they can do this just as well as anyone else. They need to feel safe when seeking answers, education, new products, etc as they advance themselves in this industry. The current construction industry model does not support any of this.”

Many Paths, One Mission

Construction is a huge industry, which includes over a million women who form part of it. While one person’s story may not be the same as someone else’s, there is a common goal for all. It is essential that the message gets driven home that despite it being a male-dominated industry, women are an integral part of it. So for anyone considering joining the sector, Hilmerson recommends to “Jump in with both feet! Be ready to work hard. Have an open mind and an eagerness to learn. There will be challenges but learn to navigate around them safely.”

Women in Construction Week is celebrated annually during the first full week of March.

About the Author

Adam Graham

Adam Graham is an industry analyst at Fixr.com. He analyzes and writes about the real estate and home construction industries, covering a range of associated topics. He has been featured in publications such as Better Homes and Gardens and The Boston Globe, and written for various outlets including the National Association of Realtors, and Insurance News Net Magazine.

About the Author

Adam Graham

Adam Graham is an industry analyst at Fixr.com. He analyzes and writes about the real estate and home construction industries, covering a range of associated topics. He has been featured in publications such as Better Homes and Gardens and The Boston Globe, and written for various outlets including the National Association of Realtors, and Insurance News Net Magazine.

Get the latest updates on home improvement


[data-stk-css="stk2LWgS"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style){}[data-stk-css="stklzck_"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style){color: rgba(132,94,195)} [data-stk-css="stksINht"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style) {} [data-stk-css="stkRDOuL"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style) {} [data-stk-css="stkwvlNB"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style) {} [data-stk-css="stkbG2uV"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style) {} [data-stk-css="stkBemII"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style){}[data-stk-css="stkP7dmv"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style){color: rgba(132,94,195)}[data-stk-css="stkoh14q"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style){}[data-stk-css="stkIHdsf"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style){color: rgba(132,94,195)}[data-stk-css="stk-2osH"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style){}[data-stk-css="stkLCNKD"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style){color: rgba(132,94,195)} [data-stk-css="stkCzu8-"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style) {} {"keyframes":[{"opacity":0,"offset":0},{"opacity":1,"offset":1}],"options":{"id":"preset-fadeIn","delay":0,"duration":1000}}[data-stk-css="stkyIWf6"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style){background-color: rgba(243,240,249)} [data-stk-css="stk97EJU"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style) { -webkit-hyphens: manual; hyphens: manual } { "keyframes": [{ "opacity": 0, "offset": 0 }, { "opacity": 1, "offset": 1 }], "options": { "id": "preset-fadeIn", "delay": 0, "duration": 1000 } } [data-stk-css="stkOrt5q"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style) {} [data-stk-css="stkMYAhM"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style) {} [data-stk-css="stkr9LYc"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style) {} [data-stk-css="stkw8wIG"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style) {} [data-stk-css="stkSklLw"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style) {} {"keyframes":[{"opacity":0,"transform":"scale3d(0.3, 0.3, 0.3)","offset":0},{"opacity":0.6,"transform":"none","offset":0.6},{"opacity":1,"transform":"none","offset":1}],"options":{"id":"preset-zoomIn","delay":0,"duration":1000}} [data-stk-css="stkLALVw"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style) { --stk-sticky-offset: 20px } [data-stk-css="stkRBtEX"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style) { background-color: rgba(204, 237, 255, 1) } [data-stk-css="stkgZp1O"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style) {} [data-stk-css="stkPxM9O"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style) {} [data-stk-css="stkpUvha"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style) {} [data-stk-css="stkWb_pt"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style) {} [data-stk-css="stkQN4tq"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style) {} [data-stk-css="stkM5E9i"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style) {} [data-stk-css="stkWQ9hv"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style) {} [data-stk-css="stkbfSlM"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style) {} [data-stk-css="stkSp8Yu"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style) {} [data-stk-css="stk8ut9V"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style) {} [data-stk-css="stkfq8dR"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style) { background-color: rgba(243, 240, 248) } [data-stk-css="stklCeKF"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style){}[data-stk-css="stk66q9s"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style){filter: drop-shadow(0 0 0.75rem crimson)}[data-stk-css="stkYEy8G"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style){}[data-stk-css="stkN_yLj"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style){}[data-stk-css="stkFaymM"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style){}[data-stk-css="stksCU0t"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style){}[data-stk-css="stk0QbF2"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style){}[data-stk-css="stk9bbV0"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style){}[data-stk-css="stk1oF2I"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style){}[data-stk-css="stkb7X7W"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style){}[data-stk-css="stkALcVm"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style){}[data-stk-css="stk4wRpv"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style){}[data-stk-css="stk1ROUS"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style){}[data-stk-css="stkDKZ4U"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style){}[data-stk-css="stkFUlJ3"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style){}[data-stk-css="stkqLW9h"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style){}[data-stk-css="stkrmhMu"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style){}[data-stk-css="stkgqEVg"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style){}[data-stk-css="stkJ79kE"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style){}[data-stk-css="stkRn_RZ"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style){}[data-stk-css="stkyjTN_"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style){}[data-stk-css="stkDGpgK"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style){}[data-stk-css="stkb2rfn"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style){background-color: rgba(243,240,249)}[data-stk-css="stkqNXfF"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style){background-position: 50% 50%; background-repeat: no-repeat; background-attachment: fixed; background-image: url('https://skres.fixr.com/clients/MSbkMzaD4uU0t8PuYJLOFTDrDaHsRoFa/post_images/section-header-2023022209590185.jpg'); background-size: cover}[data-stk-css="stkdHS4x"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style){}[data-stk-css="stkc_6eJ"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style){}[data-stk-css="stkx1Lcb"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style){}[data-stk-css="stkN9Dd3"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style){}[data-stk-css="stktlKAO"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style){}[data-stk-css="stkjV2uE"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style){}[data-stk-css="stkxO0XD"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style){}[data-stk-css="stkGtZxu"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style){}[data-stk-css="stks7P_0"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style){}[data-stk-css="stk55pdm"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style){}[data-stk-css="stklCgAA"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style){color: rgba(132,94,195)}[data-stk-css="stk9UvaC"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style){}[data-stk-css="stkQ4mMM"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style){}[data-stk-css="stkYXdYh"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style){}[data-stk-css="stko9Mq6"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style){}[data-stk-css="stkbFEkN"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style){color: rgba(132,94,195)}[data-stk-css="stk8-jc5"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style){}[data-stk-css="stk65gcX"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style){}[data-stk-css="stkLiB5N"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style){color: rgba(132,94,195)}[data-stk-css="stkKQvbI"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style){}[data-stk-css="stkmKvju"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style){}[data-stk-css="stkkFWk1"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style){}[data-stk-css="stkdBWnr"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style){}[data-stk-css="stk5896U"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style){background-color: rgba(248, 250, 252, 1)}[data-stk-css="stkvy0DS"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style){}[data-stk-css="stkd88nm"]:not(#stk):not(#stk):not(style){} .stk-post [data-anim-name="preset-fadeIn"]:not(#stk):not([data-anim="false"]) { opacity: 0 } .stk-post [data-anim-name="preset-fadeIn"]:not(#stk):not([data-anim-m]), .stk-post [data-anim-name="preset-fadeIn"]:not(#stk):not([data-anim-m="false"]) { opacity: 0 }