The workplace has been radically changed by the COVID-19 pandemic, creating a critical gap that must be addressed during America’s comeback: the mass exodus of women from the American workforce. Five million women have lost or left their jobs in the past year. In December 2020 alone, the U.S. economy lost 140,000 jobs previously held by women.
A recent study 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 care 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 crumbling infrastructure. With vaccinations underway 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. National construction employment was only 3% below its pre-pandemic peak in February 2020.
“I believe women bring a new perspective to the construction industry and are not afraid of making changes in moving our industry forward.”– Melissa Kline Consumers Concrete
Construction offers many career opportunities in the office or on the jobsite with competitive salaries — especially compared to other industries. While women in the U.S. workforce earn an average of 81.1% of what their male counterparts make, the gender pay gap in the construction sector is almost nonexistent, with women earning an average of 99.1% compared to men. In Michigan, the annual salary for a construction plumber is $62,530. For an electrician, the average is $62,480.
Women returning to the workforce will be vital in ensuring America’s comeback. At ABC Southeast Michigan, we are committed to recruiting and upskilling women so we can continue to develop a diverse and inclusive construction industry. To learn more about career opportunities in construction during 2021 Women in Construction Week, March 7–13, visit www.abcsemi.org.
Owner of Paul Scott Plumbing
Christine started out in the car business selling fleet vehicles. She married a plumber and left her job to help run the business. When he succumbed to cancer, she knew she had people depending on her and decided to keep the business open.
“I knew I had to get my plumbers license to keep the business open, but I was up to the challenge. I am proud that we not only made it through a difficult time, but our company is growing and prospering.”
“I have to admit I do get a little kick out of customers calling and asking for the boss expecting it to be a man’s voice, but when I get talking, they have no doubt who is in charge.”
CFO of O’Donnel Electric
Bridget left her former career in banking and real estate to join the family business. “I was so used to everything in the corporate world being done the same way. Now I relish the diversity of my job and love that everyday is going to be filled with some different challenge or opportunity.”
“This type of work is not boring. Even if you already have a career in a different field, I encourage anyone with an interest in the trade to give it a look. It can be a life changing experience.”
Owner/CFO Altech Doors, LLC
As a woman in the construction industry, I have learned working hard is only half the battle. Working smart and with true passion for what I do really makes me a competitor in this field. I spend every day making sure we are always at the top of our game which has enabled Altech Doors to become known as an industry expert. We are best at finding solutions for our customers, oftentimes with the personal touch a woman can provide.
As a mother of two young adult women, I am passionate about empowering other women and continuously try to improve myself. I want to be an inspirational role model by showing them we can be top influencers in the construction industry. My advice for other women is to build a strong team foundation in the culture of your company, and it will carry over in whatever field you chose. I have found, in general, people will respond with mutual respect, appreciations, and become loyal customers.
In April, Altech Doors will be celebrating its 17th anniversary. I am immensely proud of what we have built over the years as one of the top competitors in our industry and an employer of some of the best technicians I have ever had the pleasure to work with.
President of Douglas Electric
I am proud to continue the legacy my father started of the excellent work our company performs for our clients. I had the benefit of being a known entity at Douglas Electric when I took over and had the full support I needed — it had its challenges, but being a woman was the least of my worries.