The U.S. Department of Commerce launched its Million Women in Construction Community Pledge on May 21 to encourage construction companies to hire more women.

Federal investment is creating a construction boom across the country that is increasing job opportunities for construction and trade workers, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said in an online announcement.

“Women make up less than 11 percent of jobs in construction and only 4 percent in skilled trades,” Raimondo said. “Many of these are good-paying, quality jobs you can get without a college degree. Women deserve equal opportunity for these jobs.”

She said an “industry-wide commitment” is needed to achieve the goal of putting one million women to work in construction and skilled-trades positions on construction sites.

“I’m calling on everyone – contractors, labor unions [and] trade organizations – to join our community pledge to...overcome barriers faced by women and underserved communities in construction and the trades,” Raimondo said.

Representatives of seven of the nation’s largest construction firms have signed on to the pledge. Those entities are Baker Construction, Gilbane Building Co., McKissack & McKissack, Mortenson, Power Design, Suffolk, and Shawmut Design and Construction.

The initiative comes as the number of women employed in the construction industry is among the highest, with 1.3 million working in various positions.

About 40 percent of women employed in the construction industry work in management or office positions, while 2 percent work in production, transportation or materials movement.

About half of female construction workers have children under the age of 18, including about 22 percent with children younger than the age of six.