WiOPS-ToastWe currently live in a period where information and news are available in real time.  There’s no longer the need to catch the six o’clock news to keep up on current events and trends. Instead, our smart phone can ping us as each event develops. Furthermore, the technology of the past 20 years has simplified the sharing of experiences, making them all the more powerful. Topics related to gender parity are no exception. International Women’s Day has been celebrated on March 8 for over a century — a time in which the discussions on women’s rights, equal pay, promotion and leadership opportunities have been ongoing. Women make up just 9 percent of the construction industry workforce with change coming slowly. This year it seemed more important than ever before to reflect and ask, "What am I doing to bring about change for the women in our industry?" WiOPS is one way we’re making a difference. Over the past two years, our organization, which was founded in 2013 in Southern California, has focused on the expansion and addition of another chapter; casting a bigger net or area of influence. In 2018, WiOPS expanded to Northern California with our launch event at maximum capacity. Demonstrating the need for an organization like ours, February and March meetings were both sold out in advance (events are free, but attendance is limited). WiOPS-5YearThe Southern and Northern California WiOPS chapters continue to engage women in operations, as well as the industry in general, to support the education and mentoring of women in construction. Our new governing board has taken on a more global approach to increasing diversity in our industry. Two new strategic initiatives were targeted for the next year — partnerships and engagement. Through collaboration and the support of all organizations that target women’s needs in construction, WiOPS plans to be part of helping drive change. More voices from different groups, all with the same goal, will be heard and add strength to the conversation as we become strategic partners in the growth and promotion of women in our industry. Engagement is the second strategic focus. Catalyst published a study that found 74 percent of men were afraid to get involved in the gender equality discussion. Unfortunately, that doesn’t come as a surprise, especially in an industry where the percentage of women is well below the norm of the S&P 500 averages. Although the construction industry has had an increased awareness of gender disparity and many companies have Employee Resource Groups as well as the support of the C-suite, we haven’t seen the movement and change that’s needed to drive results or even establish targets to define success. The next step appears to be the active role of industry men in the discussion.  I don’t doubt that each male leader is genuine when he says, “I understand. I have a daughter.”  But now we need to move to the next step—not just telling women, that we have their support, but actually showing other men in our organizations what support looks like. And what does it look like? WiOPS-NoCal-LaunchIn the case of WiOPS, it’s attendance at events by our male colleagues. At the events, it’s conversations focused on the mission — the development of women and how to understand our challenges. Then, it’s about transitioning this gained understanding and knowledge to the business social setting and finally into the decision-making arena. Moving forward will take a process of awareness, reflection, attendance and curiosity leading to men using their voices in support. This is a big part of what WiOPS strives to accomplish in 2018. Together, we can develop a stronger, more diverse workforce in the construction industry.

Read more highlights of women in construction here.

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About NCCER

NCCER develops standardized construction and maintenance curricula and assessments with portable credentials. These credentials are tracked through NCCER’s National Registry which allows organizations and companies to track the qualifications of their craft professionals and/or check the qualifications of possible new hires. The National Registry also assists craft professionals by maintaining their records in a secure database.