We Need More Women in the Workplace in Construction

We Need More Women in the Workplace in Construction

10th December 2015

Good news comes in the revelation that the UK construction industry is diversifying and is well on the way to becoming multi-gendered.  We published an article on inclusivity in the construction industry a couple of weeks ago which covered a conference organised by Stonewall and the Fairness, Inclusion and Respect (FIR) Toolkit that’s been funded by the construction Industry Training Boar (CITB) to promote inclusivity in the workplace. 

The construction industry is traditionally a male dominated sector but recent news that record numbers of women are in the industry is welcome news.  Women are being offered equal opportunities to work and progress within the construction industry and many are now working self-employed on major building sites here in the UK.  There are women working in all of the trades within the industry, pioneering and setting a great example to young girls in schools and showing that career progress in this sector is possible.

The percentage of women who work as electricians, bricklayers, tilers and plumbers is on the increase and there are plenty of women training within all of the construction trades.   Plumbing, tiling and decorating are all popular career choices for the 21st Century woman. 

This situation has come about as a result of several factors.  To start with, there is now a reduced chance of discrimination towards women working in what were traditionally seen as male jobs and women are finding that carving out a career within construction is a very real possibility. 

Moreover, there are so many householders nowadays who would prefer to employ a female tradesperson to carry out repair and maintenance work within the domestic sector.  Many households nowadays are headed by a female and female homeowners will often prefer to employ another female to come into their home and carry out tasks, in much the same was as a single woman needing to use a taxi would prefer to have a female driver.  It’s something that makes women feel more comfortable and secure.  There are actually companies whose unique selling point is that all of their operatives are female.

There’s still a long way to go, however as at present women only represent 12% of workers.  When women construction workers were surveyed to discover the main challenges they face, the following facts came to light:

  • 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.

These are all problems that will need to be addressed if we want to attract more women into the construction industry in the future.  Welcoming women into this sector right now will encourage more young girls to consider a career in construction in the future.