Campaign launched to encourage more women into construction

Considerate Constructors Scheme’s industry survey reveals more needs to be done to change perceptions and encourage more women into construction

Whilst 79% of respondents said the construction industry has improved its approach in encouraging women into construction, 52% have witnessed or experienced sexism within the industry.

The survey also reveals the main reasons women do not choose to work in construction cited as being:

  • working conditions – 22%
  • lack of female role models – 22%
  • negative image of the industry – 20%

The UK and Ireland campaign ‘Spotlight on…women in construction’ has been launched by the Considerate Constructors Scheme to boost the much-needed industry effort to attract more women into the construction industry.

The Scheme, which makes around 15,000 monitoring visits to construction sites, companies and suppliers every year, surveyed over 1000 people to find out why women still only represent a meagre 11% of the construction industry workforce. The Campaign provides a variety of practical steps that can be taken to address this issue in the short, medium and long term.

The survey findings also revealed that:

  • 94% of respondents agreed that the industry would benefit from employing more women.
  • 76% said there are no construction jobs which only men can do.
  • 74% said there should not be quotas for hiring women into construction.

It is clear from the survey, that although some results appear encouraging, there is still a huge amount to be done, particularly in addressing sexism and changing misguided perceptions of what a career in construction offers to women.

‘Spotlight on…women in construction’ pulls together the latest and greatest examples of best practice, case studies from women working across the construction industry, legal requirements and links to useful organisations encouraging women to work in construction.

The Campaign extends the Scheme’s influence in this important area; by complementing the Scheme’s monitoring Checklist which asks several questions about equality and diversity to raise standards across the thousands of Scheme-registered sites, companies and suppliers; and the role of the industry mascot, Honor Goodsite in visiting hundreds of schools across the UK and Ireland every year.

The importance of having role models is absolutely critical. As such, ‘Spotlight on…women in construction’ has interviewed a number of women within the industry to examine what opportunities and challenges they have faced and why construction offers a great career for women of all ages, backgrounds and skills.

Case study contributions include: Roma Agrawal, (Structural Engineer at AECOM and a Director of the CCS); Stephanie Bennett, (trainee Quantity Surveyor, Morgan Sindall); Victoria Betts, (Senior Site Manager, Higgins Construction), Sally Cave, (first qualified female Gas Membrane Installer in the UK); Margaret Conway, (Project Manager for McAleer & Rushe and winner of CIOB Construction Manager of the Year 2017 Award); Michèle Dix (Managing Director, Crossrail 2); Katie Kelleher (Crane Operator, Laing O’Rourke); Eillish Kwai (Employment and Skills Manager, Ardmore); Kath Moore, (Carpenter and Chief Executive, Women into Construction); and Megan Robinson (Technical Coordinator at Barratt Developments plc).

Managing Director for Crossrail 2, Michèle Dix said “Women are still underrepresented at present but I think we are starting to move in the right direction. We need to recognise the need for more flexible working arrangements, especially if we are to encourage women back after taking time off for children.

“I think there are lots of opportunities out there and one message I would give to my fellow women colleagues is “go for them!”. Be confident in your own abilities. The industry has so much to offer.”

Site Manager for Higgins Construction, Victoria Betts said “In the time I have been working in the industry there has definitely been an increase in the amount of females working in it. The Considerate Constructors Scheme has been a big driving force in this as it insists on facilities for females that previously would not have been in place.”

Considerate Constructors Scheme Chief Executive, Edward Hardy said “Thank you to everyone who has contributed to ‘Spotlight on…women in construction’. The Campaign provides a must-read set of resources for organisations and individuals who would like to improve their standards of considerate construction – with the aim of driving greater equality, diversity and inclusion throughout our industry.

“Not only is it imperative that standards must be raised in this area, in order to help encourage more women into the industry, but a more equal and diverse workforce also brings greater collaboration, creative thinking and more inclusive workplaces. This can only be a positive step in helping to improve the image of the UK and Irish construction industries.”

Click here to read ‘Spotlight on…women in construction’.

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