March is Women’s History month, which incorporates National Women in Construction Week early in the month. But the members of NAHB’s Professional Women in Building (PWB) Council and its newest chair, Karen Schroeder, celebrate women in the building trades year-round.
Schroeder is co-founder and vice president of Mayberry Homes, a home building company she runs with her husband in Lansing, Mich. She was named the 2018 PWB Woman of the Year for her outstanding work and dedication promoting the efforts of women in building. Schroeder was also one of the first women — and the first couple along with her husband — to be inducted into the Michigan Construction Hall of Fame.
“We as women are so fortunate to have one another, to lend a hand when we are down, to recognize our strengths when we lose sight of them ourselves, to encourage us to grow and learn and thrive,” Schroeder said. “Throughout Women in Construction Week and this entire Women's History Month, I will continue to honor the women before us; those who paved the way and held the doors open have my respect and gratitude,” added Schroeder.
It is also an opportunity to raise awareness of careers available for women in the construction industry. Although the number of women employed in the overall construction industry has risen each year over the past decade, the percentage of women in the field is still only around 10%.
In addition, most women within the industry are involved in sales and office occupations, including administrative and management or professional occupations. Only about 3% are involved in construction and maintenance occupations — the very jobs where workers are needed the most and where they can make an impact on the housing affordability crisis by filling the labor gap.
Workforce development efforts that are important for the overall industry can also highlight the good-paying jobs available for women in the field. Women in the United States earn an average of 81.1% of what men make, but the gender pay gap in construction occupations is significantly smaller, with women earning on average nearly equal to what men do.
Celebrating inclusion in the industry is something the PWB Council works at every day. After Schroeder attended her first PWB Council meeting, she was inspired to begin her local's PWB chapter. “That was inclusion. That is why PWB is growing. We are inclusive,” Schroeder says.
“As women in this industry, we must remain diligent in supporting and strengthening those behind us. Include them, mentor them, empower them to succeed. By doing so, the entire industry and our federation will benefit,” she added.
In honor of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day this week, NAHB CEO Jerry Howard and Chief Lobbyist Jim Tobin interviewed California home building professional and past NAHB Chair Linda Hebert on the latest episode of NAHB's podcast Housing Developments.
The PWB Council has hit many milestones throughout the years, including its start as the NAHB Women’s Auxiliary in 1955.
Keep up to date on happenings with the PWB Council and network with other professional women in building on Facebook and LinkedIn, or learn more about the council's wide variety of benefits and how to join your local council at Why NAHB Professional Women in Building?