While contractors are beginning to adopt more advanced technologies, they are not making the same level of progress when it comes to employing women on the jobsite. The percentage of employees who are women on the jobsite still averages below 10%. That’s according to the Q4 2019 Commercial Construction Index (CCI), released by USG Corp. and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Women in Construction

On average, contractors reported that just 7% of their onsite workers are women. However, 31% said they weren’t sure about the percentage of women on the jobsite. Nearly half of companies with fewer than ten people said they have no women working for them onsite while all those from companies with 100 or more employees said they have some percentage of women onsite.

The top obstacles preventing companies from drawing more women into the construction industry are:

  • The perception of a hostile work environment (56%);
  • The physical nature of work onsite (56%);
  • Lack of mentorship (26%);
  • Unclear path for advancement (24%);
  • Pay gap (17%);
  • Inflexible hours (16%);
  • Concerns about safety (12%); and
  • Concerns about job security (11%).

There are many obstacles preventing women from joining the construction industry, but there are also several ways to recruit more women, including creating a better perception of construction industry professions in general (49%), more industry outreach to schools directed at girls and women (40%), more examples of successful women in the industry featured in media (39%), mentorship programs designed to include women (35%) and creating a more welcoming culture to women within organizations (33%). A clearer path for advancement, better pay and more flexible hours were also reported as top ways to recruit more women.

Mentorship was valued as a top recruiting method in the Midwest, where 52% selected it among their top three ways, compared to just 22% in the Northeast.

Access to Financing

Heading into 2020 most contractors (76%) believe that their access to working capital financial will remain the same in the next six months. Only 9% believe it will become more difficult and 5% believe it will get easier.

When it comes to the expected change in building owner access to financing over the next six months, 70% of contractors reported that they expect it to remain the same or get easier, down four percentage points from Q3 2019 but still higher than Q2 2019 when it was 66%.

Materials and Equipment

Fewer contractors (50%) expect to pay more for tools and equipment in the next six months compared to last quarter’s survey results (52%). However, 62% of trade contractors expect to spend more compared to just 41% of general contractors.

“This combined with the 56% who expect to hire more workers suggests that contractors still see a thriving construction market ahead despite some growing concerns,” concludes the report.

The percentage of contractors who expect a high impact from material cost fluctuations also decreased in 2019 from 30% in Q3 2019 to 22% in Q4 2019.

Slightly more than half of contractors reported that they’ve experienced some product shortages, but the percentage who expect a high to moderate impact from those shortages dropped from 86% in Q3 2019 to 77% in Q4 2019. However, the percentage of contractors who expect steel and aluminum tariffs to have a high impact on their business over the next three years remains high at 40%, up one percentage point from last quarter. The percentage of contractors expecting a high degree of business impact from new construction material and equipment tariffs (32%) and from trade conflicts with other countries (21%) decreased in Q4 2019, both by five percentage points.