Attracting Women

Have you ever been to a careers event at a school or college? While there is no enforcement in place, you will see that gender stereotyping is still very much in play. It is a sad fact that many industries always fall very much into the category of suitable for one gender not the other. Hair and Beauty – Girls. Construction and Trades – Boys. It is a sad fact that women are still not being made aware of the varied career options within the construction industry. Clear Gender Bias A survey released by Redrow in March 2017 made for some pretty disheartening reading. The data was collected from 1000 young people aged 15-21. While 40% of male respondents said they had been given careers advice on the construction industry – just 29% of females were able to say the same. So what is going wrong? Obviously, the first wall we need to knock down is the idea that construction is a macho environment where women are not welcome, but the issues runs deeper. Distinct Lack of Information One of the most significant problems is the lack of information available. Construction is not just about being on the front line, bricklaying, plastering, or installing electrics etc. If we do not break this assumption then women, as well as men being brutally honest, will become more reluctant to dig deeper and find out more. While these are skills that are called for and offer a rewarding career for thousands of people, construction is such a broad industry. Not only is it much more significant than people first assume, the scope for building a career and discovering exciting and challenging roles that demand high levels of personal investment and offer considerable career progression as a reward is monumental. Not All Roles Have Hi-Viz Jackets! If we look at a company that operates solely to build homes, the organisational chart demonstrates that it is not all about digging holes in the ground and working in hard hats and steel top cap boots. Quantity Surveyors, Civil Engineers, CAD/Technical Drawing experts start the lineup. You cannot run a company without financial management and what about a legal team? An essential function when you are dealing with land acquisition and house sales. Environmental and sustainability issues are high on the agenda of construction companies across the globe, as the pressure is on to protect, preserve and replace green spaces. The industry needs PR, accounting provision, market research and customer services – suddenly you can see how severely underrepresented the construction industry has been, primarily in careers advice events, which is where we need to be getting things right. How Do We Correct This? There are two issues that need to be tackled in order to encourage more women to see the benefits of a career in construction. Firstly, we need to address the gender pay gap, which as prolific in construction as it is in many other areas. The current figures from the Office for National Statistics puts this deficit at 45%, which is shocking and needs immediate remedy. Why are women being paid almost half the amount that their male counterparts earn? Housebuilding thankfully doesn’t suffer from the gender gap in the same way. Women are rewarded according to their job role, skills and experience. Secondly, we need to promote female role models within the industry. Thankfully other people have taken this challenge and there are events and organisations taking shape with this sole intention. Women need to understand that choosing construction can open doors and offer exciting and challenging careers that are not capped by the glass ceiling. A constant message that construction is more than just bricks and mortar is required to attract females into the sector. Hopefully, more and more women will see the appeal and we shall see a balance of male and female candidates to job interviews within the industry.

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Simon Wilkins

Simon Wilkins

The Headhunter

07554 234 567