General Construction 500 views Jan 07, 2020
What more can be done to attract women into Construction?

After significant improvement, numbers of women entering construction have started to stagnate. What are the reasons for this and what can we do to improve?

Getting more women into construction has been a long-term ambition for the construction industry. Even though there has been a lot of work done on this issue, recent data has shown that the numbers of women in the construction sector have remained pretty much the same – around 13% participation with only a negligible increase in the last 8 years. In addition, only about 9% of new apprentices are women; a figure which highlights the work still to be done when trying for more equitable gender participation in the future

There are a number of factors for this disparity and a lot of ongoing work is being done to address the issues at play. This is evident even at a micro level as the industry has been incentivised to create bespoke clothing options for female workers employed onsite – there’s now a range of appropriately sized clothing for women to wear including high visibility jackets, boots and hard-wearing trousers. However, there’s a lot more work to be done to attract females into the construction industry.

One of the most significant factors in female recruitment is around perception. It is clear from survey date commissioned by organisations like Keepmoat that the majority of women do not see a role for themselves in construction. Furthermore, they are also unaware of how many women are already in construction and how diverse their roles are.

The Keepmoat survey showed that 56% of respondents were surprised to learn that women are represented at executive, manager and director level in construction. On hearing of these opportunities, 72% said that the industry needed to do more to highlight them. After completing the survey, 45% of young women said they were more interested in a construction career compared to only 13% before.

However, the numbers remain relatively low in terms of other labour sectors. There are challenges at all levels of the industry – the representation of women in top roles in construction reveal the work still to be achieved. Only 16% of women have C-Level roles whilst only 3% of companies have a female construction manager.

Additional surveys from trade bodies and contractors reveal that the gender pay gap is growing and women aren’t really aware of the different opportunities that the construction industry can offer.

Here at Base Energy, we are proud of our record in recruiting the very best and most talented people regardless of their gender. We are also proud that some of our leading and most influential figures are women. We want to shout about this success and highlight to women around the country that construction needs them and that they are valued and vital members of the construction industry. Our experience also tells that women are playing an integral part in the growth of the industry. Nowhere more so that right here at Base Energy.

Base Energy’s Director & Operations Manager, Shirley Hunter has been with Base Energy for the last three years and has contributed so much to our continued success. Shirley has worked with the construction industry for over 20 years and has always enjoyed the challenge:

“I have always been drawn into traditional ‘male dominated’ roles such as the Japanese Shipping Industry, Logistics and the construction industry.  I tend to go for the roles that appeal to me and then let people judge me by my work ethic and commitment as well as my determination to achieve no matter what the odds.”

Shirley is a fantastic example to people of how celebrating hard work and dedication can lead to career advancement and opportunity. It is these qualities which Shirley believes will have a big impact when addressing the gender imbalance within the construction:

“I feel that it is up to individuals to promote the industry more and celebrate its achievements. This can be done in a number of ways; including through networking.  The construction sector is very friendly if you make the effort and push yourself outside your comfort zone. The promotion of women within the industry should happen naturally based on merit.  I went from being Commercial Manager to Director within 12 months of joining the company.”

From a woman with 20 year’s experience to someone who has just entered the industry. Bethany Sutton joined Base Energy this January after enjoying a career in the beauty industry. Bethany now works for Base Energy as a Sustainability Support Manager and is thoroughly enjoying her role:

“I did initially perceive the industry to be male dominated as prior to entering the industry and I was not really aware of the number of different roles that were available. I have become really invested in our work in sustainability. It has made me realise the importance and impact of construction within the current environmental climate.”

“My experience at Base as a whole has been amazing. We are all treated equally, regardless of our position in the company, gender, age etc. The directors genuinely want the best for us and give us a lot of freedom in terms of what career paths we would like to progress into within construction. They support us with training courses and constant mentoring so that we can achieve as much as possible.”

Another great example of available opportunities is our Sustainability Consultant, Carina Hassall who specialises in BREEAM and Flood Risk, Surface Water and SuDS. Carina has worked at Base Energy since 2013 and has extensive flood risk and sustainability experience with residential and commercial projects across the UK.

Although, it’s clear more needs to be done to encourage women to take up onsite work, the career options available throughout the sector are attractive to those with a wide range of interests. Base Energy’s success is a direct result of the recruitment of people such as Carina’s who’s drive and dedication have been key to growing the business in recent years.

It is well understood that such promotion has a tangible and positive impact on inspiring young women to consider future careers in the construction industry and that can only be a huge positive for the industry as it continues to face up to the challenges of the 21st century.

We are proud of all our staff and want to recognise the hard work and commitment shown by our female employees. We hope that conversations continue to be had about gender equality in an effort to address the unequitable participation of females in the construction industry. We believe the strength of any organisation is dependent on those who work for it and it’s clear that opening up the industry to wider pools of talent can only make the construction industry stronger as we all move forward.

For more information, please contact Base Energy Services

Editor’s notes.

Founded in 2008, Base Energy are a building sustainability consultancy providing expert building regulations and planning services for the built environment. We work with architects, builders, contractors, developers and surveyors to take away the complication of regulative planning restrictions and offer a guide though the whole planning process from start to finish; ensuring that projects meet full compliance.