Women make up a small 11% of the construction industry. And only 1% of these are based on site.
This is an issue as there is very little progress being made in attracting this half of the population towards jobs in the industry. And with a skills shortage across the sector, the industry needs many, many more worker. A recent report by Scape Group, an environment consultancy, also warned that this skills shortage is at a “breaking point.”
However, the industry is typically a male dominated sector. Therefore, it is apparently of no surprise that few women choose this career path. This is the belief of Paul Payne, managing director and co founder of construction recruitment firm One Way. The head of client services for the company also supports this as she has seen first hand the struggles women face within the sector.
“One of the biggest issues facing women in construction is the proverbial ‘glass ceiling’ they hit as a result of the predominant stereotype in the industry. Construction has always been heavily male dominated and the result of this is an unconscious bias in many of those making hiring decisions to chose men over women.”
“For those women able to overcome that initial hurdle, the stereotype is so ingrained in the industry that working your way up the ladder – or in some cases, even getting your voice heard – is a huge challenge.”
It is recognised though that more needs to be done to encourage women into the sector. However, there is very little support from many employers. According to Payne, they are indirectly responsible for the barriers that are placed in front of female workers. Research conducted by One Way, supports this. They found that 58% of people, when asked about the challenges for women in construction, felt that businesses themselves are to blame. This was due to a range of different issues. This included stereotyping within the recruitment process and a lack of commitment from employers.
Therefore, he feels that employers must take a closer look at their own hiring practices. Alongside this, he also believes that the industry itself needs a reputation boost too. This is due to the belief that it has become ingrained in people that the industry is just for men.
Apparently though, the vast opportunities that are on offer in the sector also need to be emphasised. There are a wide range of roles. These can vary from manual labour, to technological solutions, to problem solving and planning. There’s something for everyone. Payne consequently recommends that this focus needs to be emphasised at education level to aid in removing the stereotype.
So what do you think? Do you feel more women need to be involved within the industry? Let us know in the comments below.