Equality is something that every person on the planet should be striving for. In some areas of life and particularly employment, huge leaps and bounds have already been made in order for women to be seen as equals to their male counterparts. However, there are still some areas where so much more work needs to be done.
This is true for construction.
The construction industry has always been a predominantly male world, mainly because many of the roles require intense physical labour and of course strength. So, does this mean that construction will always be limited in welcoming women?
We don’t think so, in fact, we think that the construction industry could actually benefit from having a female’s touch.
The current standings
So, how does the current climate look for the construction industry? Well, across the industry as a whole, taking the roles that are more admin and design based into account, women make up around 11% of the entire workforce. When you actually look at the building sites themselves, it drops to just 1%.
Compared to the rest of Europe, the UK has the lowest proportion of female engineers, with only 14% of students entering engineering and technology first degree courses being women.
So, why is this?
Of course, the perception is that it is “men’s work” and its mainly manual and requires strength. However, who is to say that women are not able to handle these roles, and of course, the administration, technical, design, engineering and project led vacancies can be just as suitable for women as they are men.
Many women who are currently working in the industry, or have in the past, state that sexism is a real problem. Women, when they do decide to enter the industry are treated worse than their male counterparts and often face comments and low level, seen as playful abuse from their fellow workers.
What can be done?
We know that something needs to happen when it comes to women working in construction, and it seems that it is not just down to leading women to change it. The main thing that needs to be looked at is the perception of the construction industry and women’s place in it. This is particularly true in the new generation of workers, who will be making their decision on where they want to work in the future. So, this is down to the government, schools/colleges, leading employers and industry bodies and recruitment firms to accelerate the pace of change.
Construction should be portrayed as an industry for all, where women and men are treated equally, where there is a range of jobs and skills required, this will encourage more women to enter it as a career. The current working generation need to become positive role models for women looking to enter construction. Having these role models will show other girls and women that it is possible to enter what is perceived as “a man’s world” and start to put construction on the radar as a job of choice.
There is still work to be done to ensure that men and women are equal. However, we are hopeful that the future of construction looks like it might be a touch more feminine than it is at the moment!
If you are a student interested in working in construction, or you are an employer looking to create a more diverse and inclusive environment, please get in touch with me for a chat!