Construction is a booming industry, projected to see an average annual increase of 3% between 2022 and 2025. This means that construction companies need more qualified employees in order to meet the growing demand for construction work.
However, construction still remains largely dominated by men, making up 87% of construction workers in the UK (see figure below). In fact, out of all the industries, construction currently has the largest gender imbalance. So, why are women underrepresented in construction? How can we encourage more women into the field so we can achieve gender equality?
Why Is The Construction Industry Still Male-Dominated?
Sadly, the fear of discrimination is one of the main reasons why many women avoid construction jobs. It’s not really surprising that they feel like this, considering how significant the gender imbalance is.
Once an industry becomes male-dominated, it can take a lot of work to restore balance. Many are concerned about being subject to sexism, like sexual harassment and lack of respect. This kind of worry makes it difficult to encourage women to join the construction industry.
Currently, around 99% of on-site construction workers are male, which can be extremely intimidating for a female. Especially when you consider the construction worker stereotypes of wolf-whistling and inappropriate comments.
Until recently, there wasn’t much encouragement given by schools for young girls to join the construction industry. This goes some way to explaining why construction has remained male-dominated for so long.
However, this is slowly starting to change as more construction companies are working with schools. Some have introduced programs that aim to improve the representation of women in construction. They show them what it’s like to work in the industry and what options are available.
Hopefully, we will see the benefits of these efforts soon. It would be amazing to see more women enrolling on our construction training courses and becoming qualified professionals in their fields.
Representation in Adverts
It may seem like a 17th Century problem, but unfortunately, sexism still exists in many adverts for construction courses and jobs. It’s not necessarily in the degrading sense but is still just as damaging to the industry.
A lot of adverts are failing to represent diversity, intimidating women. Advertisements should be representative of gender, as well as ethnicity, disability, etc. However, it seems that the majority are still using imagery, videos and messages which are championing the typical ‘builder’ stereotype.
These types of advertisements are really holding the industry back. It’s increasing the current skills shortage by reducing the pool of talent available to them by alienating women and other minorities.
Why Is Gender Equality in Construction Important?
While having a gender-balanced workforce is important for any industry, encouraging more women into construction is particularly vital.
It’s no secret that males and females think in different ways. In fact, it’s scientifically proven that our brains are wired differently. Having this kind of diversity in all sectors of construction is really beneficial.
It helps construction companies stay innovative, competitive and profitable by encouraging different solutions to the same problems. When you introduce new ways of thinking, you start to introduce new methods and approaches which haven’t yet been explored.
The things that make us different make us stronger, which is why diversity is such a hot topic.
Construction is facing a severe construction worker shortage at the moment, which has been exacerbated by Brexit. This means that construction companies are desperately trying to find ways to attract new people into their industry.
Currently, with the lack of female encouragement, the talent pool is nearly half its potential. If more women were encouraged to join construction, it would help alleviate some of the issues construction companies are currently experiencing. Encouraging more female applicants on construction training courses and jobs will help to close the skills gap.
TUTS’ Director, Cheryl, actively encourages females to enrol in our training courses. She’d love to have more women putting their skills to the test and joining her in the construction industry:
Our industry is reaching a point where we need to welcome more females in order to keep up with demand.
It’s such a fun and rewarding industry, but there are still barriers that are preventing many women from entering. As an industry, it’s our responsibility to take down these hurdles. As the founder and managing director of a construction training centre, I feel an extra duty to make my centre a safe and friendly place for women to learn in.
Construction companies and building sites have a responsibility to make their facilities ‘women-friendly’ too; such as basic welfare facilities for ladies. Too many are not properly equipped for women, which is bound to concern a lot of women and will continue to do so until a change is made.Cheryl Loake, Director of TUTS Training Group (UK)
How Can We Encourage More Women To Join The Construction Sector?
Supporting Young People
Having initiatives in place to support young girls with career development is vital. These programs need to start at school. With continuous development throughout their education, they should feel encouraged to pursue careers within construction when they leave school or university.
Having construction companies working with schools to provide construction-related workshops, training and support is really important. When we encourage more young women at school age, we are setting them up for success throughout their construction career journey.
Break Down Barriers
As previously discussed, a large barrier for many women is the preconceived ideas they have of a stereotypical construction worker. Since they don’t feel they fit into that stereotype, it makes it extremely difficult to picture themselves in that role.
This is why construction companies are trying to break this barrier down. They are actively encouraging women into construction roles by showcasing successful women in adverts, on job sites and within training courses.
Construction work is often physically demanding and requires long hours away from home. Because of this, many people are unable to maintain a suitable balance between their work and personal lives. This might prevent women from entering the field. Women and men with family responsibilities need some flexibility in their employment, but this can be difficult to find in construction.
Construction companies are starting to realise that construction projects can be planned around those who need flexible working hours. By using innovative construction project management, workers can find ways of working remotely, job sharing or getting time off when needed.
Provide The Right Facilities
Interestingly, it isn’t even just the process of encouraging women to consider a career in construction that is challenging. Once they are hired, there can be even more hurdles.
Often construction sites are lacking facilities that are essential to women’s basic needs. Changing rooms and female toilets aren’t always provided. In order to make the construction industry a female-friendly zone, providing female facilities in working environments needs to become standard practice.
Aside from the facilities, women will also need safety equipment and workwear which are different sizes and styles to men. Similarly, employers should have these available, instead of making do with the male designs. A little bit of extra care and effort goes a long way.
The Future of Construction Training For Women
Construction companies have a lot of work to do so that construction can be more welcoming for women. If we encourage more women, it will help the industry by bringing in new perspectives and skill sets that are needed. In turn, this will also improve productivity on construction sites.
At TUTS, we actively encourage construction training for women. We have created a deliberately inclusive environment, so the information is relevant and relatable to women, and other minorities, in construction roles. Each construction career path is unique, so TUTS caters for this by providing an array of courses to support each delegate’s individual goals.
Are you a female interested in building a career in construction? Why not get in touch with our friendly team, who can help you decide on the right path for you. We can then point you towards the training course that will help you reach your goals.