Women Contractors in California: We Need More


The California construction industry is in dire need of new workers following new pro-housing initiatives.  Because California’s contractor makeup is roughly 90% male, there is an increasing opportunity for women to come and fill in the gap. 17% of home buyers are single females, but only less than 11% of contractors are female nationally.

We analyzed publicly available CSLB data to determine the current state of women in California contracting. We looked at the gender breakdown by leadership roles and also by contracting specialty. We found that the contracting industry in California lagged behind the rest of the nation in terms of gender diversity (11% of women contracting nationally vs. 7% in California). This is especially prevalent in high paying specialties such as electrical and plumbing, which came last at 5.1% and 5.2% respectively.

Graphic #1 - Gender Breakdown by Role/Title


  • 7.0% of contracting license holders in CA are female, while 93.0% are male.
  • 24.9% of business officers in CA are female, while 75.1% are male.
  • 7.8% of responsible managing officers (RMOs) in CA are female, while 92.2% are male.
  • 11.5% of contracting CEOs/Presidents are female, while 88.5% are male.

Graphic #2: Gender Breakdown by Contracting Specialties


  • Painting (C-33) and landscaping (C-27) were the more popular contracting sub-specialties for females, where the percentage of female license holders was 9.2% and 12.1%, respectively
  • Electricians (C-10) and AC/HVAC (C-20) sub-specialties were the least popular among women contractors, both with only 5.1% of female license holders
  • Plumbing (C-36) comes in a close third for the least popular contracting category for female contractors, with 5.2% female license holders
  • 6.26% of General Builder contractors (License B) are female, while 93.74% are male
  • 6.39% of General engineering contract (A) are female, while 93.61% are male; this reflects a similar makeup to the General Builder sub profession.


Quantitative data analysis was conducted using publicly available data from the California State Contractor licensing board (CSLB). Information provided includes license numbers, contractor names, titles, and classification(s). 

With this data, we wrote a short computer program to determine a contractor's gender by cross checking their names against a known list of female/male names. We excluded names that were unisex or without a clear gender. With this information, we conducted a gender gap analysis of all CA contractor based on their title (officer, RMO, CEO) as well as sub-profession classification (A, B, C-10, etc.).

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