We Need More Women in Construction

female guest speaker

I was recently a speaker for the Construction Owners Association of America. I met another guest speaker, Brent Darnell, who is a popular keynote speaker at construction events.

Construction is a notoriously male-dominated industry; typically it employs less than 1 percent women. Because of this, they often struggle to balance soft skills like teamwork and trust.

Recently Brent shared with me a chapter of his new book, The People-Profit Connection. I found some significant research on Trust (and how it's intrinsic in men and women) that I wanted to share with you.

Researcher Paul Zak studied Oxytocin, known as the trust or connection hormone because its release in our body creates empathy or trust. Zak calls the selfish hormone testosterone. It has the opposite impact, creating selfishness and mistrust. Thus, oxytocin and testosterone have the opposite effect.

Men naturally have ten times the testosterone as women. Testosterone also increases dramatically when stress levels elevate. Thus, male-dominated fields can quickly dissipate into a heated stress mess. Women and our heightened oxytocin levels can create a great balance in this upheaval. The more oxytocin we have, the less testosterone we'll see and less stress. 

Imagine replacing stress and mistrust with a calming connection. At the COA Conference, there was a session on Women in Construction that I attended. People suggested that the simple presence of more women on a site can make a significant impact. 

Construction managers who build strong teams mindful of women's potential contribution can go far. Productivity on any team increases when you balance the soft skills with hard labor skill.

There are just under a million women in the construction field right now. Women also make 95.7 % of what men earn in construction.

Construction professionals contribute to projects that will likely outlive them and have a very lasting, concrete impact on their community. This sense of contribution and meaning goes a long way to attract more women in the construction field. One of the things that need to change to attract more women in the area is to create a more inclusive work culture that includes both men and women. 

I enjoy being a female motivational speaker at construction events. One of the reasons I am hired is because I am a woman and it helps them balance their agenda and content with a female perspective. I find the audiences extremely receptive and keen to attract more women in the field.


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