Women in Construction
Despite significant progress in recent years, the construction industry is still predominantly male-dominated. Women make up only a small percentage of the construction workforce, and there is a significant gender pay gap in the industry. However, there is a growing recognition of the importance of diversity and inclusivity in the sector, and more and more women are making their mark in construction.
The percentage of women in the construction industry varies across different countries, but the numbers are generally low. In the UK, for example, only 14% of the construction workforce is female. This lack of representation is not just a matter of equality; it also affects the industry’s ability to attract and retain talent. With a growing demand for skilled workers and an ageing workforce, it is essential to tap into this underrepresented, but extremely capable, talent pool.
Diversity in a workforce brings fresh perspectives, ideas and ways of working, and women can bring different skillsets and experiences that will benefit the industry. Providing equitable access to job opportunities and career development is something all industries should be working on, however, the construction industry in particular stands to gain by being proactive in attracting women to this sector.
Beating the stereotypes of what working in construction is like, is part of the challenge. Most people would typically imagine the traditional muddy, loud, hands-on working environment when the truth is that roles in construction extend far beyond site life. It’s imperative that schools and higher education begin the conversation that construction offers a vast range of career opportunities for all – architecture, project management, BIM, skilled trades, engineering, surveying, sustainability and environment…the list is endless. And what’s more, it’s a brilliant industry for career progression and personal development, with training programmes and apprenticeships widely available.
One of the other key challenges that still needs addressing (besides the lack of representation) is the associated bias and discrimination that women face, although this is not exclusive to construction. Issues such as sexism, gender pay gaps, and lack of flexible working can present barriers to women entering the workforce, and companies must be committed and consistent in challenging stereotypes and addressing biases. The good news is several companies are already making strong efforts to address these issues, with initiatives such as mentoring and support networks, flexible working arrangements and diversity and inclusion training. Making changes to recruitment and retention practices, such as offering flexible working arrangements and addressing unconscious bias in the workplace, goes a long way in presenting construction careers as an attractive and viable option.
In conclusion, women are an essential part of the construction industry, and their representation and contribution are critical for the industry’s future success. By promoting diversity and inclusivity, addressing gender pay gaps, and creating opportunities for career development, the industry can attract and retain the best talent and create a more equitable and prosperous future for all.