U.S. Markets open in 3 hrs 47 mins

Construction industry looks to women amid labor shortage

·2 min read
CBS News

After about 10 years as a New York City barista, Desiree Camacho decided it was time to nail down a new career path — construction.

"Even my own mom when I told her I was interested in doing this, she's like, 'Why would you want to do that? That's a man's job,'" Camacho told CBS News. "And I was just like, 'Yeah, well, I need the man's money, so I'm going to go do the man's work.'"

Historically, construction has been a male-dominated field. But now more women are joining its ranks. Women make up roughly 11% of the country's construction workforce, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The industry boasts one of the country's narrowest pay gaps, with female construction workers earning about 95% of a male worker's median pay in jobs that often don't require a college degree, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The number of women in construction has increased more than 50% in about a decade to more than a million in part because of targeted recruitment campaigns.

"It's absolutely an untapped market. We are fighting workforce shortages with one hand tied behind our back," Brian Turmail, Associated General Contractors of America's senior executive director of public affairs, told CBS News.

The trade association launched a digital outreach campaign urging women to consider construction jobs, attracting tens of thousands of applicants.

"It's everything from the basics, like take the darn pinup calendar off the trailer wall to more fundamental changes in thinking about how do we create an environment that's more welcoming. How do we listen to new people?" Turmail said.

In the Carolinas, Samet Corp. started offering paid parental leave. Women now make up nearly 20% of its workforce.

Back in New York, Camacho enrolled in trade school after spotting an ad on the subway.

"We're here, we're strong," Camacho said. "We can do the work also. And we have been showing up to do it."