General Construction 650 views Aug 07, 2018
Construction needs women on-site - not out of sight

In the past few years significant progress has been made to make the construction industry accessible to women; whether that be lowering the gender pay-gap or increasing the amount of jobs on offer. Whilst the changes are positive and reassuring, there are still some gender imbalances which need addressing. Baumit, a global building materials manufacturer, is making a commendable effort to make the sector more inclusive for women, standing as a fine example of how the construction industry is levelling-out gender biases in the sector.

Whilst the construction industry appears to be heading in the right direction, with women currently accounting for 18.8% of the sector’s workforce compared to 12.1% a decade ago, the figures still show how building and associated trades predominantly remain a man’s world. This is an issue that urgently needs to be addressed, and companies should be focusing on how they can change this.

The industry is missing a trick by not tapping into the largely ignored talent pool at its disposal, and further attention needs to be paid to how women can access jobs within the construction industry. Whether by learning the skills to be a plasterer or becoming head of marketing for a building company, there are plenty of opportunities for women. They just need to be highlighted and made available. 

A survey commissioned by house builder Keepmoat, for example, revealed that only 13% of women aged 16 to 25 would consider a career in construction. To find out why this figure is so low, certain questions need to be raised. For example, are women not encouraged to enter the industry, or are they simply not being given the right opportunities to make construction their career?

Baumit’s current employment ratio of men to women is almost at 50%, showcasing how the company is leading a new generation of building manufacturers that are bringing women into the job sector. At Baumit, employees are hired on merit and credibility and the company is a known advocate for equal pay in the construction industry. Research carried out in 2016 by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors found that on average men earned £11,000 more than women in a similar role. This was up from a pay gap of £7,000 in the same survey a year earlier. At Baumit, both men and women in the same roles are paid similar rates, and both female and male employees are given equal opportunities. This equal environment allows women to cultivate their skillset while working for one of the leading innovators in the built environment.

It is important that the construction industry continues to make positive attempts to promote inclusivity in the sector. Organisations such as Women in Roofing seek to inspire and support young women hoping to make their way into the trade. Hopefully, organisations such as this will help dismantle perceptions about the sector being inherently male. The annual Women in Construction conference is another important step, providing a space for discussion on equal rights and female representation throughout the industry. Change is happening because of these timely and honest conversations, but in the meantime, Baumit remains a testament to equal opportunities and gender equality in the construction workplace.