This is a Man’s World (But it wouldn’t be nothing without a woman or a girl)
Last week saw us celebrating International Women’s Day across the globe so in a bid to bring the construction industry into the 21st Century, this article is all about women in construction – or, more accurately, about the dire lack of women in the sector. A government report on employment published last year revealed that there are so few female workers in the construction industry that the government can’t provide estimates for the individual trades within the construction sector as a whole. According to the Office for National Statistics, women only account for a measly 12% of the industry’s workforce which is worrying news for a sector that needs to attract hundreds of thousands of workers over the next five years if infrastructure and building targets are to be met.
Research reveals that only 13% of women between the ages of 16 – 25 would consider taking up a career in construction which almost half of the respondents disclosed that the main reason that the industry holds no appeal for them is that they believe there are too many barriers to career progression. This is a situation that desperately needs to be addressed if we want a construction industry that’s fit for the 21st Century. An industry that offers young people of both genders the opportunity to build a successful career for the future.
There’s still a long way to go if we want to see more gender equality when it comes to working in the construction industry and the following issues will need to be considered before progress can be made:
· More than half of the respondents felt that they were treated worse at work due to their gender (the top three issues they faced were lack of promotion prospects, lower pay and a general feeling that they were isolated from their male colleagues).
· A massive 40% of those surveyed claimed to have been bullied and harassed by managers.
· A third of women were too afraid to complain about poor treatment in the workplace.
· A quarter of the women questioned revealed that they had to share toilet facilities with men.
· 15% of the respondents disclosed that they were unable to find protective equipment that fitted them properly.
It also seems that the idea of working within the construction sector is not being adequately promoted to young girls in secondary schools – only 29% of women aged 15 – 21 are given career advice suggesting the construction industry, as opposed to 40% of men in the same age group. Girls and young women are mostly unaware of the roles in the industry that they may find promising – we need more female role models in construction and we need STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) ambassadors promoting the option of a career in construction when visiting schools.
Next week we’ll be taking a closer look at some of the issues that make the construction industry so unappealing for young women choosing their career paths.