They Can Do It. Celebrating Women’s Health and Resilience in Manufacturing and Construction

COVERED IN 
THIS ARTICLE:

  • Women are making strides in traditionally male-dominated fields like manufacturing and construction, bringing valuable skills and diversity.
  • The construction industry is actively recruiting women to address labor shortages and changing perceptions.
  • Off-site, factory-based construction offers a safer, more appealing environment for women compared to traditional job sites.
  • Benefits of factory work include climate control, ergonomic equipment, predictable locations, transferable skills, and growth opportunities.
  • Companies with 30%+ female representation outperform less diverse firms and see higher retention by prioritizing worker wellness.
  • This Women’s Health Week, we celebrate women’s strength and contributions to the evolving construction workforce.

Rosie the Riveter:

A Legacy of Strength and Determination

As we celebrate Women’s Health Week, it’s fitting to remember the enduring legacy of Rosie the Riveter. This World War II icon symbolized the strength and determination of women working in factories during a time of great need. Her recent Congressional Medal of Honor serves as a testament to her lasting impact. Today, as labor shortages persist, women continue to demonstrate that same strength and resilience as they rise to meet the demands of the current labor market.

The Evolution of Women in the Workplace

Throughout history, women have faced significant barriers in the workforce. However, societal changes have led to a gradual increase in women’s participation in traditionally male-dominated fields. Today, women are breaking barriers and excelling in industries that were once considered off-limits to them. From engineering to entrepreneurship, women are making their mark and reshaping the workplace for future generations. As more and more women enter these fields, they are not only bringing diversity and fresh perspectives but also challenging outdated stereotypes and norms. The success stories of women in traditionally male-dominated industries serve as inspiration for younger generations, showing them that anything is possible with hard work and dedication. 

As the modern workplace continues to evolve, it is clear that the future is bright for women who are determined to pursue their passions and break down barriers. With each achievement and milestone reached, women are proving that their strength, and resilience know no bounds. Women are not just participants in the workforce, but leaders, innovators, and change-makers who are shaping the world for the better.

From Manufacturing to Construction, Women Continue to Break New Ground in Traditionally Male-Dominated Industries.

The trailblazers paving the way in fields such as manufacturing and construction serve as inspiration for the next generation of women looking to make their mark in the world. The rise of women in construction roles can be attributed to several factors, including a growing recognition of the value of diversity and the need to address labor shortages. While challenges remain, the industry is making strides in creating more welcoming and equitable workplaces. Women are seizing the opportunities presented by these changes, bringing their skills and perspectives to the field.

According to a 2023 report from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 10.8% of construction workers in the United States are women and represent an increasing number of roles. This represents a notable increase over the past decade, with the number of women employed in the construction field rising by 52.9% from 840,000 in 2012 to 1.28 million in 2022.  

The BLS analysis also projects a 4% growth in the construction sector between 2021 and 2031. Over the next ten years, that translates to roughly 168,500 new employees annually. As a result, companies are recruiting more women, leveraging their unique skills and capabilities to support ongoing growth.  

For example, Holt Construction is one such company with a female CEO and a female workforce of almost 30%. Holt’s companywide initiative, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion: Building Communities, Inside and Out sets a high bar for for the industry but results in very measurable outcomes.  This approach to staffing and advancement has not only helped address the industry’s labor shortages but also supports innovation and continued success for the 100+-year-old company.

Dvele, a modular home builder focused on building healthy homes, has also been noted for its commitment to building a healthy work culture. Dvele’s ranked #3 on the Best Start-Up Companies to Work For in San Diego, CA list, as per Zippia’s evaluations, which suggests it may be succeeding at its goal of creating the kind of healthy and positive work environment that attracts and retains female employees.

Furthermore, MFD, with its diverse global team, flexible work arrangements, and supportive environment, proudly boasts a workforce comprised of nearly 50% women. By prioritizing the well-being and professional development of all employees, regardless of gender, companies like MFD are not only attracting top talent but also setting a positive example for the industry as a whole. In doing so, they are helping to change perceptions while adding balance and dimension to industries such as manufacturing and construction that had previously been much more heavily male-dominated, paving the way for a more diverse and inclusive workforce.

Building Futures:

The Appeal of Off-Site Construction for Women

One area where women are making significant inroads is in the off-site, factory-built sector of the home construction industry. This sector offers several advantages that align with the needs and preferences of many women, such as improved workplace safety conditions, less strenuous work, less reliance on prior construction experience, more predictable work locations, greater job stability, and more comfortable working conditions. These benefits make off-site construction an attractive option for women looking to enter the industry.

Some offsite construction factories have a workforce comprised of as much as 30% women. Factory building attracts women more than worksite construction for several reasons:

  • Safer and More Controlled Environment: Prefabricated construction often takes place in a factory setting, which can offer a safer and more controlled environment compared to traditional construction sites. Examples include ergonomic work fixtures, jigs, catwalks, and mezzanines that make working in a factory much safer than on a job site.
  • More comfortable, Less Demanding: Working in a factory’s air-conditioned setting is far nicer than on a construction site. Cranes, lifts, and other mechanical assistance equipment require less physical stamina and strength.
  • More Opportunities Despite Less Experience: Due to the standardized work processes in offsite factories, years of construction industry experience are not always needed in order to find a path to leadership from factory floor roles.
  • Location Predictability: Being able to work every day at a single nearby location is much more convenient for employees and their families.
  • Wellness and Growth: Some prefab construction companies now offer dedicated programs to train, mentor, and nurture women, providing them with the tools for career advancement. Additionally, these companies may offer specialized health, wellness, and flexible work arrangements to accommodate the unique needs of female employees.

Balance, Benefits, and the Bottom Line

Gender balance not only benefits the employees themselves but also has a positive impact on the bottom line of the organization. A McKinsey & Co. report from 2023 indicates that enterprises with a female staff of more than 30% are more likely to outperform those with less gender diversity.

The data also suggests that diverse teams, drawn from a larger talent pool, tend to be more innovative, and ultimately lead to better business outcomes. Incorporating diverse perspectives into leadership positions can help companies better understand and cater to their customer base. By having a workforce that reflects the demographics of their target market, businesses can more effectively connect with and meet the needs of their customers, leading to increased customer satisfaction, loyalty, and, ultimately, higher profits for the company.

Workplaces that invest in women and wellness tend to have higher employee retention rates and lower turnover costs. All employees feel valued when health and safety initiatives are supported in the workplace, but this is especially true for women, making them more likely to stay with a company for the long term. Promoting workplace wellness can help foster a positive work culture where employees feel respected and appreciated, leading to increased job satisfaction and overall productivity. Ultimately, investing in the well-being of employees not only benefits the individuals themselves but also has a positive impact on the company as a whole.

Health = Wealth:

Workplace Wellness for Women’s Health Week

Rosie the Riveter’s legacy lives on in the women who continue to break barriers and thrive in male-dominated industries.   As we reflect on the progress made and the road ahead for women, it’s clear that there is much to celebrate.  Companies are recognizing the immense strength, talent, and determination women can bring to even the toughest of jobs.  They understand the importance of implementing health, safety, and wellness programs to bring out the best in their teams. By implementing mentorship programs, leadership development initiatives, and inclusive policies, companies can create a more supportive environment for all employees, while fostering an inclusive and healthy workplace culture where everyone is respected and empowered to achieve is fundamental to business success. 

This Women’s Health Week, let us honor their contributions, their mental health, their physical strength, and their unwavering spirit. By empowering women and prioritizing their safety, wellness, and inclusion in every workplace, we create a stronger, more vibrant workforce for all.  Together, we can build a future where every woman has the opportunity to succeed and flourish in her chosen field.

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