Data from the Office for National Statistics and industry surveys show that the number of women in construction has not increased significantly, despite attempts to increase female representation.
Women in construction
At the end of 2016, approximately 27 million people were working in the UK. The divide between men and women was nearly 50-50. However, 2.3 million had jobs in the construction industry and only 296,000 were women. In this case, the split is 87-13. It’s an alarming wake-up call.
The ONS data shows that the percentage of women in construction is scarcely higher than it was before the recession, despite the industry’s active efforts to attract new recruits and access wider talent pools.
In the fourth quarter of 2016, women represented only 12.8% of the construction workforce. While there has been some post-recession improvement, the proportion of women in construction has grown only slightly: in the fourth quarter of 2007, they represented 12.1% of the workforce.
Nadine Clark, Managing Director of Kelsey Plant Hire is quoted saying:
I really like to see women in construction roles. It is fantastic to see women in this industry. In the past, they may have been wary of the construction industry due to the image it can portray. However, being a women in this industry can be a very positive career move.
Schools need to be encouraging girls to look at the construction industry as a whole, there are so many roles that are an option for them. Its not just about builders and bricklayers. There is so much more to it and there are great careers out there for women. With many successfully filling the higher roles these days, this is a really positive move.
The construction industry needs to attract more women
Housebuilder Keepmoat commissioned a survey that revealed equally troubling insights: it showed that only 13% of women aged 16-35 would consider a construction career. Many say that the figure is not surprising given the ‘male builder’ stereotypes that still exist, and that the construction industry needs to do more to attract women.
Other surveys suggest that the opportunities for women need to be more evident. The Keepmoat survey showed that 56% of respondents were surprised to learn that a lot of women were employed 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.
The key message is that more needs to be done to retain the best and brightest women in the construction industry. More firms are understanding that diversity brings a host of benefits, so there are signs that things are starting to change.