Women Within the Construction Industry
There are a number of initiatives in the construction industry to tackle gender diversity. Women make up only 11% of the entire workforce, and only 1% of workers on building sites. In comparison to the rest of Europe, the UK has the lowest proportion of female engineers, and account for only 14% of entrants to engineering and technology courses at University.
This industry has been pretty static in terms of gender ratios for a fairly long time. Some areas have a more equal ratio, for example, the design industry, whereas the manual careers industry show a minimal proportion of women.
In terms of the future, the way to even out this gender ratio would be to make the career option more appealing to the younger generation. There is also a lack of female role models within the industry which led to Alethea Watson mentoring a scheme called Volunteer It Yourself (VIY), this scheme helps young people learn different building skills whilst they work on community construction projects.
So far 38% of sign-ups for the VIY scheme have been female, according to its sponsors Wickes. This is much higher than national averages within the industry. As a result of the push to encourage more women to enter the construction industry, it is predicted that in 2020, women will make up 26% of the UK’s construction workforce.
As well as trying to reach out to the younger generation, the construction industry has experienced some other changes. Maternity rights for all employees have now been protected by law and many organisations now offer the option to work from home, making the industry more appealing to women. The difference in pay has also started to become closer between men and women, leading to everyone having the same opportunities for promotions too.
Although there have been a number of big steps towards introducing more women into the construction industry, there is still a long way to go, but there are lots of schemes to promoting this change which will lead to narrowing the gap.