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I. Introduction. II. Difference between gender perspective, equity and equality. III. Women in the construction industry. IV. How can I contribute to gender equity in the construction industry? V. Conclusion

I. Introduction

Women constitute an important work force in all human activities and construction is no exception. Job opportunities in this field vary from administrative, field, accounting, legal, technical, financial, etc., and can be found at different levels, in both private and public organizations. Although it is common to see an increasing number of women joining the sector, very few of them do so to occupy the highest positions in the organizations, these are, decision-making positions. Hence, this article aims to provide knowledge for the readers and hopes to lead all women reading to close the gender gap in the construction industry.

II. Difference between perspective, equity and gender equality.

According to the document "How to integrate the gender approach in the infrastructure sector?[1], published by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), gender refers to the "roles, characteristics and opportunities defined by society that are considered appropriate for men, women, boys, girls and people with non-binary identities..." while gender equality "implies equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities among people, regardless of the gender with which they identify".  Gender equity then refers to “giving the same conditions, treatment and opportunities to women and men... in such a way that access to them can be guaranteed." Finally, gender perspective "is a way of looking at or analyzing that consists of observing the impact of gender on people's opportunities, roles and social interactions."

III. Women in the construction industry

As mentioned above, the construction sector is made up of two major players: the private construction companies and the contracting public entities. In recent years we have seen more women incorporated to the private construction industry, mainly in the office and field areas, the latter traditionally dominated by men under the justification of being "rough work". However, very few women are incorporated into the leadership of the companies, as owners, founders, shareholders or entrepreneurs, who play a decisive role in the decision making of construction companies. For example, in our 24 years of experience serving construction companies, we have only had 3 female clients who are owners of companies, who lead and make decisions for their company, which gives us a very clear idea that this sector is dominated by men. Yet, this does not mean that women cannot aspire to lead the largest construction companies, as a clear example of this can be found in ICA, one of the largest and most long-lived Mexican construction companies, which is led by Dr. Guadalupe Phillips since 2016.[2]

In the public sector, women have had a slightly greater access to higher levels or decision-making areas, which is insufficient according to the diagnosis of the current Mexican government. To tackle this, it launched a program called PROIGUALDAD that aims to close the "historical gaps of inequality, according to the highest national and international standards of women's human rights". [3] This program can be applied to any government area where infrastructure works are contracted, for example, its implementation derived in the creation of the following areas within the Ministry of Energy of the Mexican Government[4]:

  • Liaison, Regulatory Improvement and Cross-cutting Programs Unit, which among other functions, prepares, proposes and coordinates the implementation and monitoring of the Action Plan for Gender Equality in the Energy Sector.
  • Gender Equality and Non-Discrimination Unit, which leads and promotes the implementation of PROIGUALDAD in SENER and coordinates the sector's entities in this area.
  • Sub-directorate of Institutional Culture and Gender Policies for the implementation of actions regarding PROIGUALDAD within SENER.

IV. How can I contribute to gender equity in the construction industry?

Our world vision must change, transform itself from time to time to be reborn. This way, new ideas and actions are generated, and slowly will the archaic ideas about women be left behind. Men, on the other side, must reflect on what it means to share their predominant position held for centuries. Under this perspective, both in the private and public construction sector, new ideas should aim to provide the same conditions, treatment and opportunities for women and men, recognizing that women have long had to fight for their rights, being systematically denied.

In the private sector, entrepreneurship in the private construction industry should be promoted and encouraged for women of all ages and conditions. The transmission of knowledge, experience and above all the "know-how" is fundamental. Universities and private organizations that bring together construction companies have the obligation to take the first step, to create or grow working groups focused on directing concrete actions to achieve this goal. When the seeds germinate, they will become microenterprises, which will evolve into medium-sized companies to become large tractor companies led by women, and this in turn will drive the new medium and micro seed companies created by women, thus producing a virtuous cycle. We are sure that all these enterprises will contribute to the creation of high-quality infrastructure, excellent resource management, savings and enhance the fight against corruption.

In the public sector, it is necessary not only to create six-year programs, but also public policies designed in a particular way for each country -as a tailor-made suit- considering specific circumstances. Existing international guides such as the Gender in Infrastructure[5] can be used as a reference to design public policies for other regions of the world, considering the specific aspects of each country.

V. Conclusion

  1. Women have the same right as men to be in decision-making positions in both the private construction industry and public infrastructure contracting entities.
  2. There are tools and reference material already referred to in this article that allow us to have a better understanding of gender equity in the construction sector.
  3. Women are already leading and making decisions directly and indirectly related to construction within large private construction and service companies and important government ministries in Mexico.
  4. Our firm has two women as founding partners and traditionally encourages the hiring of women in our consulting and dispute resolution areas.
  5. If you would like consulting or legal services related to construction through a firm that applies gender equity, do not hesitate to contact us.

Construbufete Jurídico S.C.

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[1]  Retrieved September 12, 2021 at the following URL:

[2] "Guadalupe Phillips takes the helm of ICA", obtained on September 12, 2021, from the website of the Mexican newspaper "El economista", at the following URL:

[3]  PROIGUALDAD Program obtained on September 12, 2021, from the Mexican government’s website at the following address:

[4]  The Ministry of Energy of the Mexican Government is currently led by Rocio Nahle Garcia.

[5] This useful tool was designed by the Inter-American Development Bank and is available online for free at the following web address: