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The Evolution of Women in Construction

With AG having recently employed their first Female Building Surveyor, Rebecca Rawcliffe, it raised the question of “Where are all the Women in Construction”?

Early this year, The Office for National Statistics published that the construction industry is currently facing a skills shortage, women are vastly under-represented and therefore only account for only 11% of the construction workforce. The reason for this, construction is traditionally considered as a predominately male orientated environment and will appear to be frowned upon by many if a woman claimed that her career was a ‘bricklayer’ for instance.

Through no fault of their own, the workforce at AG is predominately Male, with an estimated 73% of staff falling under the Male category. Traditionally, construction sector jobs are considered a male occupation but whilst this may have been apparent pre-1975 prior to the Sex Discrimination Act + Equal Pay Act being introduced, it would appear that the main reason for this is that women, in the first instance are just not interested in entering into a construction career.

A recent survey undertaken by One Way Recruitment, who specialise in recruitment for the construction industry, reported that 35% of respondents feel that a construction industry based career simply isn’t a popular career choice for women. The recruitment company who focus primarily on the construction sector, claim that the lack of construction career education in Primary and Secondary Schools are the reason behind the gap in female talent.

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Centres are being introduced into Secondary Schools and Universities to encourage female and the younger generation to gain an interest in those subjects. There is nothing in place for the construction aspect other than in 2007 when a government scheme titled ‘Constructing The Future Project’ was launched, to encourage women to be interested in a career in Science, Engineering, Construction and Technology.  The scheme was launched after the Government gave £250,000.00 to get it off the ground.

The project was being overseen by Elevate, a multi-million pound government scheme introduced to transform East Lancashire’s neighbourhoods. The Management Team came up with the idea for the project after Elevate claimed women only make up a minor percentage of the UK’s construction industry.

Constructing the Future is aimed to help women obtain positions within the industry by encouraging them to study professional qualifications and offering advice and support.

Through this scheme, Rebecca was provided with funding to purchase books whilst undertaking her HNC in Construction Course.

Taking into consideration that the construction industry is currently facing a relatively large skills shortage, which will subsequently lead to a huge impact on the success of project completion dates and quality, alienating approximately 50% of the UK population is just not an option. It is hoped that more projects are put into place to entice women into the construction sector and to change the negative reputation that the construction industry currently has with females.