The National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) released an impressive 16-page report on Wednesday sounding a nationwide alarm because women constitute just 2.6 percent of America’s construction workers.
The shocking report also indicates that women in the construction industry say they deal with gender stereotypes and sexual harassment.
There are over 7.6 million male construction workers across the country but the number of female construction workers is a mere 206,000, the NWLC said in a press release obtained by The Daily Caller.
Nefarious social forces, mentioned only in the passive voice, are to blame, the women’s group says.
“Young women are often subtly encouraged and explicitly steered into occupations that align with traditional gender stereotypes instead of being encouraged to enter traditionally male programs such as construction,” the report suggests.
At the same time, the report also notes that women, who make up about half of the U.S. labor force, have become gainfully employed in many employment sectors once dominated by men, such as firefighting and prison guarding.
Concerning sexual harassment, the report relates an anecdote from the experience of New York City construction worker Patricia Valoy.
“Men would stop their work to stare and wolf whistle,” Valoy complained. “On a few occasions I got called a ‘bitch’ for refusing to reply to inappropriate remarks. Some men felt the need to give me ‘how to get fit’ advice and make comments about my body.”
Valoy also recounts how a male construction worker asked her out on a date and “blocked the doorway” until she complied.
The nonprofit group blames “gender stereotypes that start in school and continue into employment” as a primary reason for why women aren’t clamoring for construction jobs. Such stereotyping works to “keep women disproportionately clustered in jobs with lower pay and fewer benefits.”
In 2013, the NWLC notes, the median hourly wage for workers in the construction industry was $19.55.
The NWLC also charges that women are kept out of an “information pipeline” that only allows males to learn about construction apprenticeships.
The group blames “pervasive harassment” for the fact that 51 percent of women abandoned apprenticeship programs in 2006 and 2007.
In order to remedy the underrepresentation of women in the U.S. construction industry, (“particularly” among “women of color”), the report demands that federal policymakers create a host of new legislation and regulations to enforce equality in the construction industry.
For example, the NWLC wants the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs to “strengthen its oversight of contractors and requirements to recruit and increase access for women in construction.”
In its press release, the women’s group claims that this federal agency “oversees one-fifth of the civilian workforce.”
The report also insists that the Department of Labor, the Department of Education and the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission must get involved.
Additionally, it calls on Congress to pass new legislation.
“It’s not surprising that the construction trades are sometimes called ‘the industry that time forgot,'” lectured NWLC Vice-President for Education and Employment Fatima Goss Graves. “It’s time for this industry to enter the modern era — to expand apprenticeships and training opportunities for women, hire qualified female workers and enforce a zero tolerance policy against sexual harassment.”
Graves, a 2001 Yale Law School graduate, notes in a bio for the Thom Hartmann Program that she enjoys “playing tennis” and “watching reality television (although far less since she had her baby – something had to give!).”