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Survey Finds Women Rising to Top Home Building Ranks

Today’s female members of NAHB are well-educated, accomplished and experienced in the building industry, according to a survey sponsored by the NAHB Women’s Council, and conducted in late 2007.

“There are more women working in the home building industry than ever before,” said Pam Weaver, chair of the 2008 NAHB Women’s Council Board of Trustees and a builder from Carencro, La. “And a significant number of these women hold leadership positions in their companies.”

The number of women who are members of NAHB has increased more than 300% over the past 12 years, from 4,800 to 20,000.

“Ten years ago I could count on one hand the number of women at NAHB board meetings,” said Nicole Goolsby, 2006 president of the Women’s Council and owner of Rion Homes, Inc.in Huntersville, N.C. “Now, there are women at every table.”

There are more than 2,800 directors on NAHB’s board.

Thirty-four percent of survey respondents reported that they own their company. More than half hold executive positions, with 40% serving as president, 15% vice-president, 7% director and 3% CEO or controller. Twenty-eight percent of the 23 million companies in the U.S. are owned by women.

NAHB President, Sandy Dunn, the second woman elected to the association’s top leadership position, owns and operates her own home building business, B.J. Builders, Inc., in Point Pleasant, W.Va.

“I don’t feel that there is a glass ceiling in this industry,” said Goolsby. “A career in building offers more opportunities to be self-directed, as opposed to a more corporate structure such as banking.”

Six-figure salaries are also more common among NAHB’s female members than in the general population.

U.S. Census data show that slightly more than 4% of American women with full-time, year-round jobs earn $100,000 or more annually, compared to 35% of the women who are members of NAHB.

NAHB’s female members are also more highly educated than their counterparts in the general population, according to the survey. Thirty-seven percent have completed college, and an additional 20% have started or completed graduate school, compared to Census figures showing that 26% of women in the U.S. have attained a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Reaching Young Women

Although the construction trades still do not attract young women in great numbers, there has been increased interest in the industry’s management ranks.

“We have young women involved in all seven trades offered through training programs by the Home Builders Institute (HBI),” said John Moffitt, chairman of HBI’s Board of Trustees and president of Moffitt Development Co., Inc., in Overland Park, Kan. “The more popular ones tend to be electrical wiring, facilities maintenance, landscaping and painting.” HBI is the workforce development arm of the NAHB.

The Women’s Council and the National Housing Endowment created the Strategies for Success Scholarship in 2001 to encourage young women to pursue careers in construction. The program gives preference to women applicants, and is open to high school seniors or students enrolled in building-related post-secondary programs.

Obstacles Still Exist

Two-thirds of the women in the survey reported involvement in the building industry for more than 10 years. While some respondents felt that entering the field was less challenging than in the past, they also said that they still had to work harder than men to develop credibility and demonstrate competency in their profession.

Forty percent of the respondents reported pay inequality with their male counterparts. Twenty-eight percent said they had been harassed; 25% said they considered themselves at a disadvantage for promotion; and 19% felt that there were jobs for which they had not been hired because of their gender.

For more information on the survey or NAHB’s Women’s Council, e-mail Carmel Nayman at NAHB, or call her at 800-368-5242 x8410.

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