Women continue to fight the battle to earn pay equal to their male counterparts and to break into fields once dominated by men. One of the areas that has become a clear success story involves women in construction, a field women began to enter by the thousands starting in the last quarter of the 20th century.

The trend has continued in the first two decades of the 21st century. However, there’s room for many more. Women currently make up only about 9.9 percent of the construction industry workforce, despite the fact the industry offers a much smaller gender pay gap than the average U.S. career field.

NMU Global Campus offers a construction management program that welcomes women who aspire to leadership positions in the construction industry. NMU actively recruits women to the program, including programs such as the Women in Construction Day held at the Jacobetti Complex on campus in 2021.

“We have the physical strength to do this just as much as men,” Kate Havel, operations specialist and event coordinator for the construction management program, said at the event. “There’s a need in the industry to diversify and to get more females involved. We have the program for them here at Northern and then we have the connections with the alumni that are looking to hire more females. It’s a win-win situation.”

Since 2017, NMU has hosted 8 Women in Construction Events. NMU Global will continue to host NMU Women in Construction Day events to offer information, insight, and support to women who want to launch a career in construction.

Smaller Pay Gap Between Men and Women

Women are attracted to the construction management profession for the same reasons as men. They want to take an active role in a challenging, rewarding field where they oversee the complicated process involved in large construction projects.

They also like the fairness in the pay structure. One of the most important women in construction statistics involves the smaller pay gap between men and women. On average, women in the U.S. earn 83.7 percent of what men make in the same job. However, in the construction industry, the gap is significantly smaller, about 95.5 percent.

According to women in construction statistics from the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC), about 1.1 million women work in construction, slightly less than 10 percent of the construction industry workforce. The number of women in construction dropped significantly during and after the Great Recession. However, their numbers have steadily increased in the years since.

Women Respected on Job Sites

There’s plenty of anecdotal evidence about the growing number of women in construction. The National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) provides one example. Started by 16 women in Fort Worth, Texas, in the 1950s, the organization now has thousands of members in 115 chapters across the country.

Media is covering the trend, as well. WPTV in West Palm Beach recently spoke with Nekita Whyte, an assistant operations manager for a South Florida construction business, in an article with the headline: “Attitudes Changing Toward Women in Construction.”

While noting that there is only about one woman for every 30 men on a typical job site, Whyte added, “When I walk onto a job site, I don’t feel there is a surprise that I am there. I feel that there is a respect that I am there. I am not ostracized or left out of any conversations. My opinion is considered and I am supported.”

Construction Manager Salary

Another benefit of going into construction management involves the annual salary. While salaries vary depending on the location, type of work and employer, U.S. News & World Report places the median annual salary for construction managers at $98,890, with the top 25 percent in the field earning more than $128,000 a year.

The trend in salaries also has risen significantly in the past 10 years, from a median salary of about $90,000 in 2012. Not surprising, U.S. News ranks construction manager as the No. 1 job in the construction field.

NMU Global Construction Management Degree Program

The NMU Global Campus construction management program offers strong support for all students, including women who decide to make the leap into this growing field. The program is one of many affordable online degree programs offered through NMU Global Campus.

Students in the construction management program can schedule classes around their busy professional and personal schedules. Entry into the 100% online program requires seven years of documented construction industry experience, three professional letters of recommendation, and completion of a prior learning assessment.

NMU offers a generous credit transfer program, allowing students to transfer up to 90 credits into the program. In addition, students will enter the program at their level of experience based on knowledge and skills. Prior learning credits will be awarded through knowledge-based testing after admission.

The NMU program prepares graduates to excel in one of the most important jobs in the construction industry. They leave the program ready to oversee a project’s budget, timeline, scope, and quality, as well as ensuring the completed construction meets project goals.

For women in construction, the program prepares them for a field where not only are their skills in demand, but they also will earn a fair salary for putting those skills to work.