With the passing of the 1975 sex discrimination act later replaced by the 2010 equality act came opportunities for women to acquire craft skills. Despite this, gender equality within the construction industry is still behind the times with women only making up 14% of the industry and less than 15% of women aged 16-35 wanting to choose a career within construction, not only this but 1 in 5 businesses in Britain have no women working within senior positions.
ENCOURAGING CONSTRUCTION AS AN INDUSTRY OF CHOICE TO STUDENTS
If more was done to encourage young women that construction could be a potential career choice, then the ability to reach gender parity would be more achievable. Not only this, but if there was more awareness of the different roles and paths within construction available, and knowledge that not all positions included manual handling or physical labour as part of the duties, and in fact required a high level of academic training and attention to detail, then the industry may become more attractive to some.
However, with the recent push to encourage the construction industry towards women, progress is steadily increasing. Women are now expected to make up more than a quarter of the construction workforce by 2020. Wages are also rising and construction companies are continuing to make an effort to promote the need for women within the industry.
CONSTRUCTION COMPANIES DOING MORE TO INCREASE THE NUMBER OF WOMEN IN THE SECTOR
Laing O’Rourke – Founded 1978
Has a number of global initiatives in place to ensure gender equality including:
- Flexible work programs.
- 26 weeks paid parental leave.
- Keep in touch & return to work coaching schemes.
- Connecting Women Network.
- School engagement programs.
They have also partnered with the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC)
Morgan Sindall – Founded 1977
In 2015, Morgan Sindall had a female-managed project team put together for the build of St Hilda’s Church of England School in Liverpool which was heavily reported on. This then led 3 of the team members to secure finalist positions at the Women in Construction & Engineering Awards in the categories Best Project Manager, Best Mechanical & Electrical Manager, and Best Quantity Surveyor, with a CCS bronze national site awarded.
The project then went on to inspire numerous young women who attended the school to consider construction as a career industry of choice. One student, in particular, was so motivated, that Morgan Sindall offered a work placement to help with university applications.
Balfour Beatty – Founded 1909
- Launched a Women in Business network to drive positive change set up to support Black, Asian women of minority ethnicity as well as LGBTQ staff.
- Undertaking outreach visits and programs with schools and other educational establishments.
- Tackling unconscious bias stereotypes with bespoke training for leadership teams, Line Managers and Recruitment Managers.
- Carrying out recruitment campaigns and working with expert bodies such as the Youth Women’s Trust and WISE.
The story of women in construction is one that shows that fighting for a better, equal future is not over, but that changes are being made to hopefully one day be a career path of parity for all.