Let’s Hear it for the Girls in the Construction Game
Here at Safety Fabrications we've been advocating for more female workers in the construction industry for quite some time. This type of diversification would go a long way towards tackling the skills shortage that the construction industry is facing which is set to get worse post-Brexit. International Women’s Day was again celebrated on March 8th as part of a global drive towards gender equality worldwide and to recognise the extraordinary achievements of women in all fields.
This year’s International Women’s Day brought to light a new word – “hepeated” which describes instances in which a woman suggests an idea which is ignored, only for it to be pounced on when a man says the same thing. Many women revealed that they experience this type of behaviour on an almost daily basis, both at work and in their social lives and some pointed out that this also highlights a point about racism as minority people also experience similar issues.
Hepeating joins the other new words that we’ve seen in recent years – “mansplaining”,(when a man explains something to a woman in a condescending manner, assuming that she is ignorant of the issue, and “manterrupting” which should be self-explanatory, but means where a man talks over a woman who is already speaking. Women have recently come up with a strategy to stop this – “amplification” when a woman’s key points are listened to and repeated, giving her credit for coming up with the idea and forcing others in the room (both men and women) to remember the contribution and who made it.
The construction industry has traditionally been viewed as a “man’s world” and this is an issue that needs to be addressed – women still only represent 11% of the construction industry workforce. The Considerate Construction Scheme (CCS) last year launched a campaign aimed at attracting more females into the industry. Following a survey of construction workers, a massive 94% agreed that this would benefit the industry and 76% admitted that there are no jobs that only men can do, although 74% did not want to see quotas for hiring women into construction.
According to the CCS there is still a lot of work to be done to redress the balance, particularly when it comes to sexism and misguided perceptions of what a career in construction has to offer women. One issue that has been raised by the female managing director of Crossrail is the need to recognise that more flexible working arrangements are necessary, especially to attract women back into the industry after taking time off to raise children.
According to Maria Pilfold, a Construction Industry Training Board member and former HR director for Taylor Wimpey who has worked in the industry for more than 20 years, there are five things that we can do right now to try to encourage more females to opt for a career in construction:
- Highlight and promote the opportunities available
- Promote female role models working within the industry
- Offer the right career advice
- Highlight positive career paths within the industry
- Promote the fact that working in construction is an opportunity to make improvements with the rise of green construction and sustainability.