Women in Construction – Closing the distribution gap
One of the constant challenges of the construction industry is closing the gender distribution gap.
And whilst some companies have acknowledged the need for change and are actively working to promote diversity and equality in the workplace, there is still a long way to go to level a male-dominated construction sector.
In this article we explore why promoting gender equality is not only important for social justice but also makes good business sense.
Are there many women working in the UK construction industry?
According to Office For National Statistics (ONS) figures, women hold approximately 14% of positions within the construction sector.
However, currently womens construction jobs are heavily lent towards certain roles within the industry.
Skill trade professionals
The same ONS data shows that only 1% of skilled trade professionals on construction sites are held by female construction workers.
Although it shows a positive move in the right direction, this represents only a slight increase within the last decade from 0.3% in 2011.
Administrative and secretarial roles
Women’s construction positions are still held mainly in administrative and secretarial roles, representing approximately 82% of all jobs within this field.
Although this has reduced slightly from 2011 when women made up 87% of these positions.
Management, directors and senior officials
The construction industry is still very much male-dominated at the top, with only 16% of managerial positions being held by women.
This represents an almost identical figure from 2011, indicating that there is still a need for improvement within the industry.
What Careers are Available to Women in Construction?
Although the construction industry is still currently male-dominated, women can play a vital role in its future success.
All the types of jobs available in construction are as applicable to women as they are to men, from skilled trade roles to management positions.
With the right training and support, there is no reason why women cannot excel in any role within the construction industry.
Benefits of having women in construction
McKinsey reported that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 21% more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.
Furthermore, a study by Deloitte found that organisations with the most diverse workforces achieved 20% higher innovation. The same study also suggests that a diverse workforce enables groups to spot risks and reduce their impact by 30%.
But how does diversity make this possible?
Both studies show that working groups require different mental frameworks to identify potential risks and solutions to problems, which a more diverse workforce is better equipped to provide.
This is in line with the findings of another study conducted by MIT that showed that gender-diverse groups “were better at problem-solving and decision-making than those that were all male”.
Increasing the number of women in all types of construction roles, therefore, has the potential to improve both the financial performance and innovation of construction companies.
How can we encourage more women to enter the construction workforce?
There are many ways in which the construction industry can promote gender diversity and encourage women to enter the workforce.
More flexible arrangements
One possible way is by introducing more flexible working arrangements to make it easier for women to juggle work with personal commitments and family life.
Employers should identify the need for different requirements from male counterparts, such as maternity opportunities and childcare.
Promoting apprenticeships and training
The construction industry also needs to do more to promote apprenticeships and other training schemes for women.
Although in recent years the number of female apprentices has been increasing, it has still yet to close the gender distribution gap in qualified positions.
Young women may not be aware of the range of careers available to them in construction, so information and guidance must be easily accessible.
Upskill and provide clear paths for progression
Investing in upskilling and promoting career progression can encourage females to aspire to senior positions. This, in turn, can help close the gender gap at the top of organisations.
These programmes can be better publicised and targeted at women specifically to encourage greater participation.
One way of promoting clear paths of progression could be to highlight more female role models who have progressed through the ranks within construction organisations.
Role models have been proven across various industries to have a positive impact on young people, so this is an important step that should not be overlooked.
This suggests that there needs to be a greater focus on retaining existing female employees, as well as attracting new talent.
Construction Courses For Women
There are many different types of construction courses available for women interested in pursuing a career in the industry.
These range from short introductory courses to more comprehensive training programmes that can lead to professional qualifications.
Some construction companies also offer apprenticeship schemes which provide on-the-job training as well as academic study. These can be an excellent way to learn about the construction industry while also earning a wage.
In addition, there are also women’s construction courses, designed specifically to support women who want to enter the construction industry.
These can be a great way to learn about the sector, build confidence and meet other women working in construction.
Many of the construction courses available are suitable for women of all ages and levels of experience.
The Future of Women in Construction
Whilst the gender distribution gap remains high within the construction industry, the positive news is that many forward-thinking companies within the sector are investing in initiatives to attract and retain more female construction workers.
By promoting equality and the benefits of a career in the construction industry to women, it is hoped that the number of young women entering into construction will continue to increase.
And with the sector currently finding it a challenge to recruit workers of all genders, the construction industry could well find that an influx of female talent is exactly what it needs to satisfy the skills shortage being felt.
This is an exciting time for women in construction and there are many opportunities available for those who want to enter the sector. With the right training and support, there is no reason why women cannot succeed in this traditionally male-dominated industry.
However, it requires the industry as a whole to raise awareness about women in construction and inspire the young girls of tomorrow, and that can only be achieved through a collaborative effort.
RG Group – Supporting women in construction
As a forward-thinking business, RG Group is committed to creating a diverse and equal workplace for all.
That is why we are proud to partner with women into construction, a not-for-profit that provides training, support and mentorship to women looking for a career in construction.
We strongly believe that diversity drives innovation and success, and we are dedicated to creating a diverse workforce where all individuals are treated with respect and given equal opportunities to succeed.
RG offer training and development opportunities for women in construction, as well as flexible working options specifically aimed at easing the burden on female employees with young families.
We believe that diversity leads to better problem-solving, decision-making and innovation within the workplace, and we are proud to have a team made up of individuals from all backgrounds and genders.
Find out what it’s like to work for RG, and what opportunities we have available for women in construction, on our careers page.
Let’s build a better future together.