Having a diverse workforce, like having more women working in construction, not only means having a variety of people from different backgrounds and ages, but it also means giving everyone an opportunity to participate.
In the construction industry in particular, women are often under represented. They comprise only 10.3 percent of the construction workforce.
Recent years have seen a renewed focus on attracting women to the industry with moderate success. However, women in leadership positions in construction companies are still few and far between.
Although progress is being made, one question remains; How can women working in construction grow professionally and prosper? One way that women can boost their progress is to use communication skills strategically.
How Women Can Lead in a Male-Dominated Industry
Although neither gender can be said to have better communication skills, knowing how each communicate can be the difference between people being confused and people being committed to your goal.
Here are some insights and tips that can help women pave their own road in the construction industry:
Get To the Point
Studies have shown that women tend to give more background than men do before getting to the point. The solution? Be succinct, even if it means taking out the (very interesting) narrative. Additionally, women use more qualifiers such as “I feel”, “Do you think?” etc. Eliminating these from your vocabulary makes you seem more competent and assured of yourself.
Part of being a successful leader is having conviction in your ideas. When you display confidence, high status, or leadership positions in this case, often follow. That said, research shows that women may let perfectionism get in the way. Though it would be nice if things were perfect, some studies show that confidence matters more than competence.
So, what does that mean? Make moves towards building your confidence by being more visible, being a strategic contributor and solving problems while not overburdening yourself and you’ll be on the right path. Don’t forget about building skills though. 84 percent of organizations actually predict that they will experience a shortage of skilled leaders in the next few years making competencies like strategic thinking in addition to communication skills a must.
Speak with Authority
Part of commanding the room is believing you can do it. Once you give yourself a pep talk, think about what your audience needs to hear and how you can best present that information. Cutting out vocal fills such as “um” and “like” and speaking in an enthusiastic manner can ensure whoever you’re speaking to is engaged and respects your role as a speaker.
Pay Attention to Your Body Language
What you say is one thing, but have you taken note of what you’re doing with your body while you’re speaking? Your body language has as much impact as your words, so you should use it your advantage. For instance, when engaging with others, ensure you make eye contact and shake hands firmly. And, when doing so, also check in to see what your audience is doing. Check for nods and smiles and look out for frowning and crossing their arms – they may not be receptive to what you’re saying, and you may need to adjust your strategy.
What’s Next for Women in Construction
Although there are still nowhere as many women working in construction as men, construction companies are now looking for women to hire and there are several resources that women can take advantage of to learn more about the industry.