UMass Boston Report Documents Continued Obstacles for Women in Building Trades
April 25, 2011
Office of Communications
Women make up only 2.7 percent of the construction trades workforce in the United States, according to a new report issued by the Labor Resource Center and Center for Women in Politics & Public Policy (CWPPP) at the University of Massachusetts Boston. The report, Unfinished Business: Building Equality for Women in the Construction Trades, examines the long-term problem of women’s under-representation in the construction trades.
Based on an in-depth analysis of the multi-faceted barriers that keep women from realizing their potential in the building trades, the report documents the failure of a critical social policy intended to address occupational segregation and of the industry to ensure women’s access to construction trades jobs.
Among the findings:
- Thirty-three years after the federal government established a target of 6.9% for contractor work hours for women and mandated an end to hostility to women in the construction work environment, women still fare poorly in term of entry, retention, and advancement in the industry.
- Harassment, discrimination, and intimidation continue to be common experiences among women working in or seeking to enter the trades.
- Government enforcement of existing laws and improved transparency are cited as necessary for increasing women’s access to jobs in the building trades.
The report also offers sector-specific recommendations to address the inequities that have characterized the industry for decades, including a model for regional collaboration of stakeholders working together to develop strategies to overcome the persistent exclusion of women from the construction trades.
Report co-author Susan Moir explained that the report documents the “overall failure of the industry − including contractors, unions, and construction owners − to ensure equal opportunities for women.”
Co-author Christa Kelleher stated that, in addition, “effective government enforcement of existing laws can be the ‘game changer’ to ensure that women have full access to high-paying jobs.”
The report was authored by Susan Moir, director of the Labor Resource Center; Meryl Thomson, researcher, CWPPP; and Christa Kelleher, research director, CWPPP. The study was funded by Building Futures of Rhode Island, an initiative of the Providence Plan, and the University of Massachusetts’ Future of Work Research Initiative.
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