Jun 19th 2018 11:06am
The construction and infrastructure industry shapes the environment in which we live is part of the fabric of our daily lives. It impacts almost every element of our work, travel and leisure and makes a significant contribution to the economy. This makes it all the more indefensible that although half the country’s working population is female, women make up just 13% of the construction sector’s workforce. Shocking in itself, the figure is brought into sharp focus by the skills shortage the industry is facing. Although there has been a 77% increase in female representation this is simply not enough. At Minstrell Recruitment we are totally committed to stamping out the stigma about women in construction.
One of the main deterrants for women entering the industry is that stereotyping and discrimination are still perceived as commonplace. Whilst misconceptions from both genders are creating a barrier discouraging talented professionals from joining the sector not only does this perpetuate a damaging and outdated social issue, but it impacts the industry itself.
Duncan Bullimore, National Specialist Director for Hays Construction, notes an inherent side effect of the damaging gender divide:
“Construction is an area of high demand, and we are not necessarily getting the best people to the best positions as there is an entire talent pool that we are historically failing to engage. The clear business advantage of encouraging gender diversity is that it could help bridge the skills gap.”
Construction is one of many industries currently facing a shortage of skills in their professional base, due in part to a reduction in hiring during the global financial crisis. In such an atmosphere, to alienate half of the workforce is at best bad business practice, and at worst, sheer foolishness.
To attempt to combat the gender divide, and encourage more women into construction, several professional and governmental bodies such as the BIS are running campaigns to help raise awareness of the opportunities available within construction.
The aim of such programmes, according to Duncan Bullimore, is to “undermine the negative stereotypes of construction as a macho, dirty or unprofessional industry”.
One of the most effective ways to change the perception of construction, is to engage those still in education. By supporting career events at schools and universities, young women entering the workforce can be encouraged to consider the significant range of careers available in construction.
By undermining established stereotypes, and celebrating the successes of women in the industry, we can make construction a more respected and inclusive sector for all
To be proactive in their job search, the most positive thing a women can do is to apply for jobs. It sounds simple, but the more women apply for jobs in construction, the more likely it is that businesses will recognise the demand, and see the range of skill sets available to them.
There are an enormous variety of positions available in construction, from office based work in architecture, estimating or quantity surveying roles, to trade work and supervisory positions on-site.