Women in Construction – the critical solution to a skills shortage

The drive to encourage and retain women in construction roles is a critical solution to the skills shortage and a topic of enormous importance to the industry at large.

One only has to consider the 300,000 new homes that are to be built each year, and the need for more than a million extra workers by 2020, to realise the enormity of the challenges ahead. Figures suggest that women are expected to make up more than a quarter of that workforce by 2020, but more can and should be done, with some experts believing the figure will be more like half of the workforce.

Looking back to 1988, less than 7% of the full-time construction industry workforce in Britain were women. By 1995, the Equal Opportunities Commission stated in its annual publication that women continue to be significantly under-represented particularly in the construction sector.

The situation is improving with wages rising, albeit slowly, and the proportion of women in senior roles has almost trebled since 2005, providing some hope that the misconceptions around construction being a gender-specific industry are at last being removed. But, a survey by Randstad in 2018 discovered that out of 1,200 people that have experienced gender discrimination (33%), 60% were women, and more than eight in ten women feel left out and excluded from male-oriented conversations and social events. Not only are these figures disturbing, but the survey revealed 43% of organisations do not actively monitor pay equality.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Encouragingly, there are parts of the industry that have recognised the urgent need to address these inequalities, and we at London Build 2018 are a part of that drive. We’ve been hosting our Women in Construction Networking Event for two years now, and are thrilled that through the growing support from industry, we are able to offer inspiring leaders the platform to encourage and inspire the younger generation and more women to challenge the barriers to entry and aspire to a more diverse workforce.

At last year’s event, we worked with NAWIC, Built by Both, Women in Property, the Federation of Master Builders and many more key industry figures, registering 1,150 female visitors to the session. We aim to make this year’s event to be even bigger and remain the UK’s largest gathering of women working in construction!

This year, we’ve partnered again with NAWIC, and are delighted that Women in BIM (WiB) and many other industry leading bodies have come on board to bring this free-to-attend event for all, offering the chance for professional individuals operating in this market to network and feel inspired.

Not only will we have a great supply of refreshments, but you’ll hear from a panel of established female experts discussing the untapped opportunities for women, get any of your questions answered, and to network.

However, we are taking our commitment to shine a light on our women in construction one step further this year by creating our Women in Construction Ambassador community.

We have an impressive list of Women in Construction Ambassadors that have agreed to help us to drive equality and diversity in the built environment, but we’d like more to join. These incredible ladies are already a part of our community:

Cristina Riley, Senior Planner Kier Group & Vice Chair Kier LGBT & Allies Network

Kathryn Lennon Johnson, Founder, Built Environment Skills in Schools;

Anne Timpany, CEO, On Tap Plumbers;

Kirsten Galea, Senior Associate Architect, West Williamson and Partners;

Nicola Coppen, Utilities Project Manager and Chair – Kent & Medway Construction Guild, Ebbsfleet Garden City;

Fiona Barry, Divisional Marketing Manager Kingspan Insulated Panels, Kingspan Ltd;

Marta de Sousa, Property Expert, LUX Reality;

Fiona Alfred, Director, Women in Property;

Anna Vincent-Gill MRICS, Consultant, Naismiths;

Angela Steele, Owner, Opportunities With Experience CIC (O-W-E);

Ruth Whitehouse, Recruitment Consultant Residential Team, PSR Solutions;

Christine Townley, Skills and diversity champion;

Marie Grieve, Director, Costello Palmer Communications;

Sarah Davis, Founder and CEO, Skills4Stem Ltd.

Christine Townley told us that:

“I chose to become an Ambassador because the built environment is still very much dominated by men, and while there are great campaigns and activity seeking to address this there is still much to be done.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Working with like-minded women creates a larger mass that hopefully can show young women why construction is a good place to work and remind us all that there are many talented women from a broad range of backgrounds working in the sector.”

And Kirsten Galea said:

“I signed up for being a Women in Construction Ambassador for London Build because I’m always interested in helping to showcase the valuable role women have in this industry, as we currently lack representation.

“As Co-founder of ‘Women at Weston Williamson’ (@womenATww) and board member of ‘Women in Transport’ (@transportwm) I’m always trying to get organisations to work together. I think we can achieve more if we join forces. Therefore I think it just makes sense to join this like-minded community of women in construction at London Build.

“And if we even just make one young girl find her passion for the industry, our time and efforts will have been worthwhile!”

Nicola Coppen said:

“Being a London Build Ambassador is complimentary to my role as the Chair of the Kent & Medway Construction Guild, where businesses, education and training providers all come together to promote the industry and the wealth of careers within.

“I am particularly keen to ensure that women and all of the younger generation consider a career in construction and am an active Business Mentor in local schools and colleges as well as forming a second business ‘4Roles4Goals’ which helps young people bridge the gap between education and the workplace, focusing on roles within the construction industry.”

Finally, Christina Riley told us:

“I agreed to be a WiC Ambassador because I have worked in the construction industry for over 25 years and for the last 18 years as a Senior Planner. Over that time it has become apparent that female talent still has a long way to go before it reaches true equality of opportunity in our industry.

“With only around 11% females working in our industry and only 3% out on-site, we still have a lot to do to change the image of construction so that more women join our industry and remain in the sector.

“We need more visible role models who are out on the front line and on-site to help close the skills gap and increase the talent pool.

“I am proud to be invited to be one of the 2018 London Build WiC Ambassadors.”

By joining us, you’ll attend the morning tea networking event and meet with our selected group of Ambassadors, allowing you to not only strengthen and build your existing network of contacts but to become part of a more significant community of like-minded business leaders. Also, we would encourage you to share your experiences and best practice with aspiring minds and demonstrate the exceptional opportunities a career in construction can offer.

It’s essential for us to tell the many fantastic career stories within the industry and hear from inspiring women on what they have achieved and how they can motivate others to follow a similar path to success. So, what more of a reason do you need to come along and be a part of our community?

The Women in Construction Morning Tea is taking place on 24th October at 10:00am-12:00pm in the Built Environment Networking Hub. Register for your free tickets now: www.londonbuildexpo.com/wic

And if you’re interested in getting behind us to drive equality and diversity in the built environment as a Women in Construction Ambassador, simply get in touch with the team at wic@londonbuildexpo.com.