Despite multiple challenges for the industry, such as supply chain shortages, reporting requirements and digitalization, construction is still very active in 2022, and there aren’t enough skilled workers to fill the jobs. Individuals with “green” skills are particularly in demand, and buildings provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act will only enhance this need as new projects are planned.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, women represent only 11% of employees in the construction field. Women are underrepresented, and more construction professionals are needed—how can more women fill these jobs?
Promoting a Sustainable Career
First, it’s important that construction be seen as a viable career path for everyone. For example, Amanda Poindexter, LEED AP BD+C and owner of Full Circle Construction Services in Glenwood Springs, grew up around construction through her father’s work. Having experience of the building industry put it on her radar as a potential career, but as a young person, she also had an appreciation of the outdoors that grew her interest in sustainability.
“I became passionate about sustainability in general after falling in love with snowboarding when I was 12 and having a connection with nature through the sport,” says Poindexter. “My dad was a general contractor, so I was aware of the impact construction had on nature and that there are opportunities to lessen the impact.”
For those who don’t have Poindexter’s background, seeing that other women work in the industry is critical, and making connections through an interest in sustainability can be a pathway.
“Volunteering with the U.S. Green Building Council has been a way to get my foot in the door in the green construction industry,” says Poindexter, who chairs the Roaring Fork branch of USGBC Colorado. “The organization brings like-minded individuals together and offers events and connections that have been monumental in my career path.”
In addition, educational resources must be available for women interested in green construction. “I always knew I wanted to pursue a career in the construction industry,” Poindexter says. “[Now] I own my own business and work as a HERS Rater and consultant with local jurisdictions, writing building amendments and helping to educate on and enforce the IECC. Being part of USGBC offers a lot of continuing education opportunities.”
Sites like Green Careers offer resources for those interested in pursuing specific careers, including that of a construction manager. Earning the Green Builder badge is a great way to demonstrate knowledge, and membership in a local community can bring networking and mentorship opportunities for women aspiring to construction careers.
Awareness, representation and education can help more women join the industry and fill the need for green construction professionals in our rapidly changing world.