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Time to recognize the important role women play in construction

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Elizabeth Roddy is recruitment and training director at the Associated Builders and Contractors of Wisconsin.

Elizabeth Roddy is recruitment and training director at the Associated Builders and Contractors of Wisconsin.

By Elizabeth Roddy
ABC of Wisconsin recruitment and training director

The workplace has been radically changed by the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving a critical gap that must be dealt with during America’s comeback: the mass exodus of women from the American workforce. According to Forbes, 5 million women lost or left their jobs in 2020.

In December 2020 alone, the U.S. economy lost 140,000 jobs; all of them previously held by women.

A recent study by the National Bureau of Economic Research shows working women are experiencing the worst effects of the recession because: one, the industries they tend to work in are harder hit by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic; and two, the shutdown of schools and day cares have made it harder for parents, women especially, to keep working.

Even though the construction industry has already recovered three-quarters of the jobs lost during 2020, workforce shortages are a constant concern. The construction industry will require qualified talent to rebuild our economy and infrastructure. With the pandemic under control and increased optimism about the prospects for construction in 2021, there is no better time for women to consider construction as a long-term career choice.

Construction offers many career opportunities in the office or on the jobsite with what will be seen to be good salaries, especially when they are compared with those offered in other industries. Although women in the U.S. workforce earn an average of 81.1% of what their male counterparts make, the difference in pay in the construction sector is almost nonexistent. Women earn an average of 99.1% of what men do.

In Wisconsin, graduating apprentices in many different craft areas have starting median salaries of more than $70,000 at graduation and most graduates have little to no school debt.

Women are extremely important to the construction industry, which offers family-sustaining careers. The Wisconsin Legislature has acknowledged the wide-reaching effects of women in construction with a Joint Resolution declaring the week of March 7 as Women in Construction Week. At ABC of Wisconsin, we are committed to recruiting and training women so we can continue to develop a diverse and inclusive construction industry. To learn more about career opportunities in construction, visit BuildYourCareerWI.org.

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