Gender is the topic on everybody’s lips. Whether it’s entertainment, economics or indeed, construction, we’re all talking about the disparity between men and women. Disparity in wages, disparity in education and disparity in professional opportunities.
So, where does the construction industry stand in terms of gender?
Unfortunately we’re not in a good way. The construction industry has the worst rate of gender imbalance of any industry in the UK.
Now, worrying as that is, there is hope for us yet! You may or may not have heard of an organisation started in 2008 called Women Into Construction. Originally it was thought that Women Into Construction would be apart of the 2012 Olympic Legacy and oh boy, was it!
"The construction industry has the worst rate of gender imbalance of any industry in the UK."
The organisation was developed on the Olympic park as the team set about assisting women who were recognised as being “highly motivated to be part of the industry” and who had a “positive contribution to make” into roles constructing the park.
There has been a real buzz around Women Into Construction as an organisation determined to normalise not sensationalise women in the construction industry. It is clear from the reports and interviews published online and in the media that women already feel self conscious in the industry and we need to make sure they feel as at home on site and in leadership and management roles as their male counterparts.
"There has been a real buzz around Women Into Construction as an organisation determined to normalise not sensationalise women in the construction industry."
One report, investigated by Professor Louise Chappell made some very interesting points on this very subject.
Cringe alert ahead.
When Professor Chappell arrived on site she was handed the only pink hard hat on siteaccording to an interview she gave to The Guardian in December of 2016. It is this kind of regressive behaviour that Women Into Construction, Professor Chappell and other organisations and individuals are tackling.
It is noted in a great deal of up to date research that the presence of mixed gender boardrooms and management teams increases profits and productivity as a wider range of perspectives and ideas are tapped in to.
"When Professor Chappell arrived on site she was handed the only pink hard hat on site according to an interview she gave to The Guardian in 2016."
But don’t worry! It’s not all doom and gloom. There are so many things we can be doing to change all of this and it doesn’t have to be expensive or arduous.
According to Professor Chappell’s report these are the key factors she acknowledged during her research: Stop rewarding and promoting excessive overtime and "shaming" those who do not. Demonstrate zero tolerance for sexism in all its forms, on and off the site. Be proactive in changing the narrative - pick the woman, person of colour, LGBTQ+ candidate if they have the necessary skills. Make the recruitment and promotion process transparent. Be the change.
We think these are all pretty doable. The road to progress is never easy, but the results have the potential to be massive and we think that is very exciting!
"Be proactive in changing the narrative - pick the woman, person of colour, LGBTQ+ candidate if they have the necessary skills."
Are you a woman in construction who has faced similar issues? Have you had a really great experience within the industry? Do you want to know more or share your thoughts? Join us at the Bobtrade Community and talk to other builders about issues facing the industry.