By Elizabeth Roddy, ABC of Wisconsin Recruitment & Training Director
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. According to Forbes, five 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 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 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 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 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 impact of women in construction with a Joint Resolution declaring the week of March 7-13 as Women in Construction Week. At ABC of Wisconsin, we are committed to recruiting and up-skilling 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 BuildYourCareerWI.org.