Women in Construction
Apr 20, 2018
The word ‘builder’ makes most people visualise an image of a man on a building site wearing a yellow hi-vis jacket and hard hat.
With women making up just 11% of the construction industry (Source: The Guardian), a figure that includes office roles such as secretarial, design, marketing and management, it’s no wonder we are still quick to think of the construction industry as a man’s world. Although this figure is very low, it does present a big opportunity to close the imbalance within the building trade.
With the construction industry offering competitive pay, long term career paths and development opportunities, this begs the questions:
Why aren’t women being drawn to construction as a credible profession?
Influences from our background, culture, and experiences shape our perceptions, in a way we aren’t always aware of. These views can heavily influence recruitment decisions, and pre-conditioned stereotypes about women in construction may lead to recruitment decisions based on unconscious typecasts. These perceptions may also lead to women thinking they shouldn’t apply for a particular role, especially if it is within an industry they deem ‘male’. By organisations making a conscious and committed decision to evolve and change these mind-sets, picking candidates for their skillset, we will pave the way for a more balanced workplace.
The 2018 Randstad survey shows that 43% of organisations (within construction, property, engineering and rail) do not actively monitor pay equality (Source: randstad – Women in construction 2018). Unfortunately, this can result in a 14-22% pay difference between women and men. With equal pay a hot topic in all industries currently, this can understandably deter women from pursuing a career within construction.
Research shows that women are being overlooked for promotions over their male counterparts. Not being given the same opportunities to progress based on gender and not skillset, is a huge detriment to women’s career progression, and could largely be blamed on the historic view that construction is a male job. With over 49% of those questioned in the Randstad survey saying they have never worked with a female manager (Source: workplaceinsight.net), this signals that either women are getting overlooked for the more senior roles, or they are not going forward for the promotion.
8 out of 10 women felt left out of conversations and social events (Source: randstad – Women in construction 2018) during male orientated conversations, opening up initiatives going on in the working environment and social activities being more widely inclusive, this would allow for women to feel less excluded from social interactions.
What would encourage more women to join the industry?
With only an estimated 1% of workers on building sites being female, we need to raise the profile of women in construction, to start changing the gender stereotype, by making it part of the everyday norm.
Raising the profile of women in construction will help motivate more females to think about construction as a credible career path. With more female role models in the building trade for professionals to look up to, this will encourage and inspire women to go for the roles they really want to apply for, without historic stereotypes holding them back.
With the new Government legalisations meaning companies with 250+ employees having to publish details on pay, this should help identify the biggest discrepancies, and start to enable a more equal pay structure dependant on job role. With women’s pay within construction rising by 6% a year between 2006-2016 (Source: randstad – Women in the UK construction industry 2016), we are already seeing positive strides toward equality in this area.
Training and development strategies within companies will give all employees the chance for growth and encourage career progression. This will also help to identify opportunities that may have previously been missed by female workers.
Career Advice / Schools
More work needs to be done at a school and college level to help construction become an appealing and credible work path for both male and female students. This will go some way to helping bridge the gap in the future. Organisations such as ‘VIY’ are making it more engaging for people aged 14-24 to learn trade and building skills while volunteering on community projects. Also ‘Girls into STEM’
Girls into STEM are actively working with schools to encourage youngsters to pursue a career in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
What do women have to say
At strukta we have women in various roles across the business, including accounts, marketing, customer services, projects and operations. We’re proud that we’re creating opportunities and encouraging women to pursue a career in construction.
Amanda Hughes, Director at AJH Procurement answers a few questions about women in Construction and how the industry can provide a full, fun and successful career for women who want to consider a job in this business.
1. What’s your personal experience of working in the construction industry / why do you enjoy what you do?
I’ve worked in the construction industry throughout my whole career, and I’ve enjoyed pretty much all of it – as it’s filled with great people that are as outgoing as I am. I am now the director of a buying team for builders/developers/groundworkers, and seeing how much we are helping our clients save time and money is an incredible feeling.
2. Why do you think that it is currently a predominantly male industry?
I think this stems from school/education – boys are sold the courses that teach them a trade, meaning they go on to have a career in the trade they learn.
3. Why do you think it’s important for more women to join the construction industry?
Diversity! It would be a pretty boring industry without women contributing to it… Every woman I have encountered recently has been passionate and motivated, what industry doesn’t need some of that?! I think women in the industry is changing the way construction as a whole is perceived – and that’s great.
4. Have you noticed an increase in the number of women working in the construction industry over recent years?
Yes, I come across far more women than when I first started in the industry. I think the construction industry is seen as more than just the individual trades now, as administration and finance, for example, has become just as important.
5. How do you think we could encourage more women to join the industry?
I think a good starting point would be to show women how credible the industry is for anyone considering their career decisions (at school/education level may be with case studies, success stories etc.).
6. What do you say to a woman considering a career in construction?
The industry has plenty of room for women, and it can really provide a full and successful career! The way construction is being perceived is totally changing, and you could be a part of that. Give it a go, I think you’d be surprised at where it could take you…
7. Why did you join the construction industry?
In total honesty, I fell into it as a lot of people do straight out of school… but was surprised at how much I loved it!! I think a lot of other women would be surprised too at how much fun the industry is.
If you’re a woman in construction or thinking about joining the industry, why not check out some of these fun organisations for networking:
Brought together for lively debates led by high profile speakers and key industry figures and female role models.
Provide bespoke support to women wishing to work in the construction industry, and assist contractors to recruit highly motivated, trained women.
Committed to helping you develop and further your career in construction.