Where the Boys Are…and the Girls Aren't

Where the Boys Are…and the Girls Aren't

I recently went to an EPA conference on greening building codes. One of the most fascinating things to me about the conference was the sharp lack of diversity -- racial, of course, but also gender.

Although construction related jobs account for as much as 66 percent of all jobs in the U.S.,  women account for less than 3 percent of the workforce in the building trades. If the conference was any indication, the gender barrier is also reflected in less hands-on aspects of the construction industry.

Code officials, construction and related law, architecture and so forth all seem to reflect a distinct gender differential. Although there are no good statistics on the number of women in the construction law industry, among the 31 leaders of the American Bar Association Forum Committee on the Construction Industry, only 5 are women, or 16 percent. In the Environment, Energy and Resources Section, out of 100 leaders, only 26 are women, or 26 percent.
By J. Howard Miller, Source: The National Archives

Why do people rob banks? Because that's where the money is. Today, so much attention and resources are being devoted to the "green economy."

From alternative energy to drafting green regulations, this is where the jobs are and where innovative people are putting their efforts.

Construction and environmental law, regulatory and code development and enforcement, and related areas do not require the physical strength of construction work, so there is no physical barrier for women to be engaged in these burgeoning areas.

Women need to be a part of this conversation to ensure that our needs are being met, of course, but also to ensure that women (and by extension, families) are benefiting from the growth in this area. Yesterday's Rosie the Riveter needs to be today's green lawyer.

Shari Shapiro, J.D., LEED AP, is an associate with Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel LLP in Philadelphia. She heads the company's green building initiative and writes about green building and the law on her blog at http://www.greenbuildinglawblog.com.

Black-and-white image by fakhar.