women in construction

Spotlight on… women in construction aims to understand why the gender gap continues to dominate the headlines and suggests steps to tackle the issue...

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Why are there so few women in construction? Why does it matter? How can we make a difference in changing attitudes and promote equality, diversity and inclusion? This ‘Spotlight on…’ learning toolkit helps understand why the gender gap continues to dominate the headlines and suggests steps on how to tackle this issue head-on.

The Considerate Constructors Scheme recognises that there are many genders, we will be using the term women or woman as someone who identifies as female or as a woman. However, we also recognise that the vocabulary evolves, and changes and we are using this term that is correct at the time of publishing.


Introduction

Over the last decade, we have seen more women entering the UK construction industry than ever before. From project engineers and designers to site managers and plant operators, today women make up 15% of the workforce in the UK construction sector. 37% of new entrants coming into the industry from higher education are women and the number of women in senior roles has almost trebled since 2005.

Increased investment in education, particularly Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) is gaining momentum and making an impression on career choices. Industry wide campaigns are continuing to make an impact; initiatives to boost female apprenticeships, toolkits to support diversity and inclusion, and outreach campaigns to increase the visibility of women in construction. Employers are actively taking steps to promote equality, diversity and inclusion and The Times Top Employers 2022 for Women recently ranked 3 construction companies in its top 50.

International movements such as the #MeToo campaign has helped shift public attitudes and behaviour, empowering women to stand up to harassment and inequalities in the workplace.

There’s also been a growth in organisations aimed specifically at championing gender equality and providing a support network for women in the sector, including the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC), Women’s Engineering Society (WES), Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) and Women into Construction.

Despite efforts to change attitudes and promote a culture of equality and inclusion, women are still grossly underrepresented in construction and engineering roles. When did you walk past a construction site and see a woman? The answer is probably hardly ever, as 99% of manual workers onsite are male.

Construction is one of the largest sectors in the UK economy; making up almost 10% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employing approximately 2.7 million people. Spanning multiple disciplines from planning and designing to building and maintenance, across transport infrastructure, utilities and the natural and built environment, the success of the sector is critical to the safe and effective functioning of modern society. So, why is the industry not reflective of UK society where women make up 50.6% of the population. Figures around Europe are no different, with France, Germany, Italy and Spain all reporting rates of approximately 9% of the construction workforce as female.

Why is the construction industry failing to attract women?

Traditional stereotypes have plagued the industry for decades, shaped by public attitude and reinforced through first-hand experience, education and media. Historically, working in construction has been seen as a masculine trade and inherently sexist. Women have been portrayed as the weaker gender, predominantly the family caregiver or only seen in support and secretarial roles. The impact of COVID-19 proved the realities of traditional stereotypes, as national lockdowns placed increased pressure on women who were more likely to be responsible for childcare.

Women often face challenges at the first hurdle when applying for jobs, with gender biased language and outdated male oriented policies still prevalent in recruitment and employment. Historically, there’s been little reference to maternity leave, returning to work packages or flexible hours required to support a family and work life balance. Gender pay inequality is rife with construction being one of the worst sectors in the UK, with a pay gap standing on average at 20%. In a 2020 report published by Randstad, 15% of the construction organisations polled had never promoted a women to a senior position and two-fifths had never worked for a female manager.

According to the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB), there are reports of inadequate welfare facilities with non-male toilets locked and being used as storage, and a lack of women’s Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) placing them at higher risk using PPE designed for the male body.

Discrimination is a big issue, Randstad revealed nearly 72% of women surveyed had experienced some form of gender discrimination at work. The report outlines 1 in 4 women are being left out of male conversations and social events leading to isolation and bias unconscious or otherwise. With the industry made up of 85% males, workplace culture will naturally be dominated by the majority view.

Why addressing the gender gap matters?

According to the Construction Industry Training Board’s (CITB) Construction Skills Network, to meet growing demand the industry needs 216,800 new construction workers by 2025. The report published in June 2022 outlines the surge in demand for housing, infrastructure, repair, and maintenance, and acknowledges the substantial recruitment and training challenges facing the sector.

With the exodus of thousands of skilled workers from the EU following Brexit, a decline in young people entering construction roles and an aging workforce with 22% of workers over 50, it’s clear there is a massive deficit of skilled workers.

In figures recently published by the Office of National Statistics (ONS), around 49,000 construction jobs remained unfilled between February and April 2022 and one fifth of all vacancies are difficult to fill because employers cannot recruit staff with the right skills, qualifications or experience.

Construction is facing the biggest skills crisis in decades. Rising costs and soaring wages are changing the landscape of the industry as smaller firms struggle to compete. Recruiting employees is becoming a long and costly process, not to mention the growing challenges associated with retaining staff. Ignoring or alienating 50% of the UK population could signal serious problems for sustained growth of the sector in future.

Having a workforce that’s reflective of society can add real value. Analysis from McKinsey suggests companies in the ‘top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 25% more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile’.

Higher rates of workplace diversity can help companies evolve, innovate, problem-solve, and be more efficient. Moreover, highly diverse workplaces offer employees a better sense of community, increased worker engagement, and a more positive corporate culture.

What are we doing to help support women into construction?

At the Considerate Constructors Scheme we strive to encourage and support equality, diversity and inclusion to raise standards of conduct and respect in the workplace. We  provide registered activity with the latest resources, advice, and best practice to add value to employee engagement and wellbeing.

The Scheme’s Code of Considerate Practice states that all registered organisations should value their workforce and provide a workplace where everyone is respected, treated fairly, encouraged and supported. The Checklist used by Scheme Monitors asks the following questions:

  • Q3.1.2 – How is the Registered Activity planning and delivering learning and development to encourage construction as a career choice, improving representation from poorly represented groups?
  • Q3.1.3 – How is the Registered Activity ensuring the workforce is treated fairly and with respect?
  • Q3.3.1 – How is the Registered Activity ensuring suitable, hygienic and well-maintained welfare facilities are provided?
  • Q3.3.3 – How has the Registered Activity supported other workforce needs?

Our Scheme Monitors continue to score registered activity for conformance to the Code of Considerate Practice supporting the Equality Act of 2010 for equal treatment of employees regardless of their protected characteristics. The protected characteristics listed in the Equality Act are age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. We record and address issues including inclusion, harassment, open door policies and inappropriate language.

The Scheme has also published a ‘Spotlight on…’ learning toolkit focussing on equality, diversity and inclusion where we carried out a survey of construction industry professional and learnt that sex was seen as the largest reason that individuals in the construction industry have witnessed or been aware of discrimination occurring.

 

 

Law and legislation

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Law and legislation

The following law and legislation are relevant to helping address the obstacles faced by women in the workplace. Everyone has the right to be treated fairly and not to suffer any form of less favourable treatment on the basis of their sex...

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External resources

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External resources

Gender diversity is a huge issue in the construction industry today. There are numerous organisations and initiatives committed to encouraging women into the construction industry...

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Examples of best practice

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Examples of best practice

Drawing on pioneering campaigns from within our industry, we’ve complied a resource of best practice and innovative examples. Benefit from the insight and experience of our registered activity, and gain ideas on how you and your organisation can strengthen your approach to this topic.

Click for more

Case studies

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Case studies

Get inspired by women across our industry who share their story and offer advice to those aspiring for a career in construction.

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What can you do?

The industry has made strides to help readdress the gender imbalance, but it’s clear there’s still so much that needs to be done to make the industry more reflective of the world we live in.

Drive diversity in recruitment

  • According to the University of York, diversity and equal opportunities in the workplace are key decision making factors in choosing a future employer, in particular millennials who tend to be more progressive and proactive in this area.
  • Are opportunities for recruitment, training and career progression the same for men as for women? Do HR policies translate into practice? Monitor real-life examples of recruitment in your organisation to make certain processes and procedures are followed and identify areas for improvement. Take steps to raise awareness of unconscious bias and make the recruitment process fair and inclusive with a diverse interview panel, name-blind CV’s and gender-neutral language.
  • Assess existing contracts and policies related to pay, workplace flexibility and maternity leave. Insurance firm Zurich saw a 20% rise in women applying for management roles after an initiative to tackle the gender pay gap; it went on to appoint a third more women to senior positions after it advertised roles with the option of ‘part-time’, ‘job-share’ or ‘flexible working’ and the use of gender-neutral language.
  • Will leadership quotas influence gender equality in your company? In a landmark ruling the  EU recently approved a new directive for large companies to ensure 40% of the ‘underrepresented sex’ (typically women) on their boards from 2026. Initiatives like this can bridge the gap and help improve gender equality with a top-down approach. Review the demographics of your teams to understand where there are gaps and take initiative to make change.

Support equality in career progression

  • Review policies and leadership culture around career progression and professional development. A survey undertaken by Hays Recruitment for Building Magazine, found 64% of women polled aspired to be in a senior position. Why are women being passed up for promotions?
  • Ensure that decisions are made based on skill and experience rather than background and gender. Develop Key Performance Indicators that are free from bias. Remove the stigma and unconscious bias of maternity leave (or indeed, paternity leave which can enable women to return to work sooner) and support women coming back to work.

Improve working conditions

  • Review salary and bonus schemes to ensure they are consistent and reflective of the job role and not on gender. With gender pay reporting mandatory for all companies with over 250 staff, there is nowhere to hide when it comes to pay.
  • Stamp out sexism, harassment and misogyny with a zero-tolerance policy. Promote an open-door policy to encourage all workers to report bullying, harassment and inappropriate behaviour.
  • Ensure workplace facilities and equipment are fit for purpose for all employees including PPE, sanitary and accessible amenities and nursing rooms.

Change perceptions

  • Breakdown traditional perceptions and stamp out old fashioned attitudes by influencing public opinion. It’s easier said than done – small steps in how we promote and market our industry will make a difference; from how we talk, to the photography we use on our websites.
  • Drive company-wide awareness campaigns for equality, diversity and inclusivity. This is not just an issue for HR and should be seen as a key priority and be embedded throughout the organisation at every level. How our leaders behave will have a trickledown effect on the rest of the organisation. Ensure site inductions and toolbox talks cover equality and diversity to ensure all workers are treated with fairness, inclusion and respect. Measure employee engagement and wellbeing by conducting regular surveys to track the ‘pulse’ of the organisation.
  • Construction is no longer an old-fashioned trade stuck in the past. Use of augmented reality, artificial intelligence and 3D modelling and printing for example, are changing how we construct and maintain the world we live in, opening new career opportunities and changing the way the industry works.

Promote role models

  • With agreement and consideration of approach, make a difference to public perceptions and put a spotlight on the women working in your organisation. Make the voice and image heard of role models that are women; from advertising photography and social media engagement to workplace mentoring and external talks.
  • Create a community and support system by developing networking groups or mentoring schemes with other women in your organisation. Be a champion for women in construction and actively speak to colleagues, peers, prospective students, industry leaders or even your neighbour down the road. Work with women’s organisations to conduct training in recognising and eliminating casual sexism and unconscious bias.

Inspire the next generation

  • Make a positive impact and inspire the next generation of construction professionals by supporting STEM initiatives. Connect with local schools and colleges to raise awareness with seminars, forums or work experience placements.
  • The next generation are more digitally savvy than ever before, why not spark their interest by promoting new technology, real-life projects and the wide range of opportunities for growth and development for a fulfilling career in construction.

Conclusion

Whilst there have been many successes to address the gender imbalance in the UK construction sector, with increased awareness and initiatives to remove gender biases, overall numbers are yet to see a significant change. The impact of coronavirus has permanently changed the way we work, with digital working and greater flexibility of home working, removing some barriers for women entering the industry.

The skills crisis is, and will continue to be, a huge challenge for construction in years to come. Together these issues create exciting opportunities to reinvent the sector; to challenge stereotypes, boost the adoption of new technology, and invest in up and reskilling our population. Whilst the sector is adapting to a new post-covid world, it’s clear a significant joint effort from education, industry and government is needed to make the construction accessible and truly inclusive. There is no doubt that creating a gender balanced workforce that is truly reflective of society will help meet growth targets and sustain the future of the UK construction industry.

Further reading on this topic can be found in the References and Useful Resources section.

The Scheme will continue to update this page as new case studies and examples of how the industry is tackling this issue are identified. If you would like to share how your organisation helps to encourage more women to consider a career in construction, please contact the Scheme by emailing enquiries@ccsbestpractice.org.uk.
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Examples of best practice

Drawing on pioneering campaigns from within our industry, we’ve complied a resource of best practice and innovative examples. Benefit from the insight and experience of our registered activity, and gain ideas on how you and your organisation can strengthen your approach to this topic.

 

Inclusive PPE in Construction

Published 21 November 2023 | No comments
Written by Jack Endean
Categories Disadvantaged and minority groups support PPE
CategoriesDisadvantaged and minority groups support PPE

The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB), Construction Management Magazine and CIOB People have launched a new campaign to address the lack of inclusive PPE in construction. They brought together a panel of experts to hear their experiences of badly fitting PPE, why it is dangerous and what needs to change. The current shortcomings in PPE provision are nothing new for…

Women in Property Outreach Programme

Published 16 January 2023 | No comments
Written by Jack Endean
Categories Documented activities and targets for community engagement Promoting construction as a career choice Schools and nurseries
CategoriesDocumented activities and targets for community engagement Promoting construction as a career choice Schools and nurseries

Women In Property, the contractor and local authority have partnered together to deliver a construction related school outreach programme to a group of 28 pupils at a local high school. The programme comprises of 8 weeks, including an intro to the project followed by sessions from a range of different disciplines in architecture, planning, structural and mechanical engineering, client focus,…

Female Comfort Boxes

Published 16 January 2023 | No comments
Written by Jack Endean
Categories Sanitary bins Suitable/accessible separate facilities Supply of free female sanitary products Toilets
CategoriesSanitary bins Suitable/accessible separate facilities Supply of free female sanitary products Toilets

After recently carrying out some research into female site welfare standards, one suggestion was to provide ‘comfort boxes’ in the female toilets. Alongside enhancing their minimum standards for toilet facilities following feedback from their employees and visiting clients, they also teamed up with Grace and Green who provide sustainable sanitary solutions that are not only plastic free, but organic and…

Menopause Action Group

Published 21 October 2022 | No comments
Written by Jack Endean
Categories Access to health practitioners and counselling services EDI/FIR training Facilities designed to accommodate equality and diversity needs
CategoriesAccess to health practitioners and counselling services EDI/FIR training Facilities designed to accommodate equality and diversity needs

This contractor has set-up a Menopause Action Group, recognising that for many people who experience the menopause that it can have huge impacts on their personal and professional lives. The group aims to raise awareness both in work and at home including for men who have partners going through the same. They have implemented specific measures to support their people…

Spotlight on… posters

Published 17 October 2022 | No comments
Written by CCS Best Practice Hub Administrator
Categories Carbon reduction Display CCS registration materials Mental health Modern slavery training Random substance testing Signage
CategoriesCarbon reduction Display CCS registration materials Mental health Modern slavery training Random substance testing Signage

Spotlight on… posters have been designed for general display in and around site welfare facilities. The Scheme has developed a collection of A3 posters from the series of ‘Spotlight on…’ learning toolkits. This resource has proven valuable for display on site and raising awareness amongst the workforce and visitors. To purchase these products, click here. To download a free electronic…

Residents Women in Construction Bootcamp

Published 12 September 2022 | No comments
Written by Thomas Doherty
Categories Colleges and universities Community engagement Promoting construction as a career choice
CategoriesColleges and universities Community engagement Promoting construction as a career choice

Over the past few months this contractor has been working with the Royal Borough of Greenwich and London South East Colleges to set up a women into construction boot camp to provide training and skills to get women from Greenwich Borough into the construction industry. It is being provided in a 4 week programme with recruitment of learners being delivered…

Promoting Women’s Contribution to Construction

Published 6 June 2022 | No comments
Written by Caoimhe Barry
Categories Disadvantaged and minority groups support Engagement and commitment from the workforce
CategoriesDisadvantaged and minority groups support Engagement and commitment from the workforce

This contractor saw an opportunity to promote women in construction through their different projects throughout Ireland and UK. The trend started on their Dungiven to Drumahoe Dualling programme when female staff were offered a ‘Wills Sisters’ jacket to help promote women in construction. This was so successful that the company have now implemented this in their other sites across the…

Combatting Period Poverty

Published 20 December 2021 | No comments
Written by Debbie Plavinskas
Categories Sanitary bins Supply of free female sanitary products
CategoriesSanitary bins Supply of free female sanitary products

This contractor believe all women should have access to sanitary products during their period however, there are many women who are experiencing period poverty and are unable to access or afford them. These women have no choice but to use rags, socks, or even newspaper to manage their menstruation, making them vulnerable to disease. This project team decided to make…

Breast Feeding Friendly Site

Published 25 October 2021 | No comments
Written by Shannon Dawe
Categories Suitable/accessible separate facilities
CategoriesSuitable/accessible separate facilities

On this site they have pregnant women or mothers present, therefore they have recognised a private space was needed to pump in private to keep up their supply therefore they dedicated a private nursing room for use by the project team and visitors, with a range of appropriate facilities as a minimum standard. The facilities provided include a comfy chair,…

Self Defence for Women’s Safety

Published 4 October 2021 | No comments
Written by Lucy Austin
Categories Training plans
CategoriesTraining plans

Common Sense Self Defence led an informative and action-packed session for all female staff across the project whether site based, working from home or off-site. This was implemented as the final part of the contractors 3-part plan for women’s wellbeing as their team returns to site, which has included focuses on period dignity and domestic violence prevention. The instructor began…

3 Point Plan for Women’s Welfare

Published 4 October 2021 | No comments
Written by Lucy Austin
Categories Sanitary bins
CategoriesSanitary bins

This contractor implemented a 3 Point Plan to support women’s wellbeing at work. This plan focused on domestic violence, period dignity and self-defence to create a safer environment both in and out of the workplace. This is especially poignant as domestic abuse reports significantly rose during lockdown & in 2020 it was reported that 55% of women were sexually harassed…

Gender Equality Workshop

Published 27 September 2021 | No comments
Written by Lucy Austin
Categories Consultation Feedback
CategoriesConsultation Feedback

To promote sustainable employment, a Women’s Network was established to enable locally recruited women to discuss key issues such as health, gender equality and celebrate International Women’s Day. The local women’s network provides the environment to enable women to not feel alone in a male dominated industry A recent outcome has been the creation of an interactive gender equality workshop…

Wills Sisters

Published 2 August 2021 | No comments
Written by Yara Gomes
Categories Disadvantaged and minority groups support
CategoriesDisadvantaged and minority groups support

Women make up around 14% of construction industry professionals and this number can only be set to rise with more and more women choosing construction jobs. Misconceptions about gender specific roles are gradually diminishing with the growing number of women choosing a career in construction. This project is promoting a toolbox talk about women in construction. The toolbox talk brings…

Promoting Women in Construction

Published 12 July 2021 | No comments
Written by Sandra Duggan
Categories Disadvantaged and minority groups support Signage
CategoriesDisadvantaged and minority groups support Signage

This project has added posters to their hoarding that celebrates twelve of the most prominent women in construction over the years from the 1500’s to the present day. They hope to have adults and children stop and take the time to read each poster and be inspired to become the next generation of construction workers.

Virtual Work Experience Supporting Women into Construction

Published 5 July 2021 | No comments
Written by Tom Oakley
Categories Support for careers advice Training plans
CategoriesSupport for careers advice Training plans

The project team recently delivered a virtual work experience session for three women that have shown interest in Construction Health & Safety. Two women came through Women into Construction and one lady through West London College and their three week Sector Skills Academy programme. After initial support given to both stakeholder and their programmes, they were able to provide work…

Personal Safety Conversation Cards

Published 26 April 2021 | No comments
Written by Leanna Martin
Categories Zero tolerance approach to harassment
CategoriesZero tolerance approach to harassment

After the tragic murder of Sarah Everard, recent campaigns, vigils, media spotlights, and focus on harassment and violence; this contractor have created a number of new safety conversation starter cards. These have been used as an aid to help open up conversations with the teams regarding personal safety, women’s safety and diversity. By having the conversations, it has made operatives…

Respect the Community – Zero Tolerance Poster

Published 17 March 2021 | No comments
Written by Jack Endean
Categories Canteen Positioning of equipment, lighting and CCTV
CategoriesCanteen Positioning of equipment, lighting and CCTV

Contractors should be ensuring that fairness, inclusion and respect standards are upheld to the highest level on sites, whilst also operating zero-tolerance policies on any behaviour that falls outside of what should be expected of an individual representing the construction industry. Attitudes towards these standards have improved in this area, however it is clear that it is still as important…

‘Hey Girls’ Period Product Packs

Published 15 February 2021 | No comments
Written by George Vernon-Hunt
Categories Sanitary bins Suitable/accessible separate facilities Supply of free female sanitary products Toilets
CategoriesSanitary bins Suitable/accessible separate facilities Supply of free female sanitary products Toilets

Period dignity is essential to health and wellbeing at work. It’s only right that female team members should have menstrual protection provided in every working environment. The Hey Girls Period Dignity campaign is part and parcel of a wider campaign to assist employers, leisure and facility providers to make conditions a little more equal for women at work and play….

Promoting Women in Construction

Published 18 November 2020 | No comments
Written by Matthew Hugo
Categories Community engagement Promoting construction as a career choice
CategoriesCommunity engagement Promoting construction as a career choice

The project team wanted to actively promote more career opportunities within the construction industry to women. To do this they undertook a series of presentations on construction careers within ‘Salon Services’ in Dover where the site is situated. By partnering with them, they were given access to a female dominated environment that allowed them to explain the roles women can…

Support for Female Engineer Mentoring Scheme

Published 29 July 2020 | No comments
Written by John Cairns
Categories Support for careers advice Training plans Workforce development plans
CategoriesSupport for careers advice Training plans Workforce development plans

Balfour Beatty are supporting the University of Dundee’s new Civil Engineering mentoring scheme which pairs female engineers with students to support and empower their transition through University and into their chosen career. Balfour Beatty Construction Manager Leigh Clark, project team member on the Badenoch & Strathspey Community hospital in Aviemore, is part of the newly launched mentoring scheme to encourage…

Girl Dreamer Academy

Published 8 April 2020 | No comments
Written by Anne Edwards
Categories Colleges and universities Community engagement Promoting construction as a career choice Schools and nurseries Support for careers advice
CategoriesColleges and universities Community engagement Promoting construction as a career choice Schools and nurseries Support for careers advice

The Girl Dreamer Academy programme is an empowerment platform for women and girls of colour. Through leadership development programmes, adventure sport and digital content they aim to build confidence and unleash the potential of girls everywhere. Girl Dreamer likes to push the boundaries, test the waters and go full throttle at everything they do. From setting up the UK’s first…

Presenting the Opportunities Available to Women in Construction

Published 23 March 2020 | No comments
Written by James Morfitt
Categories Plan to positively promote construction Support for careers advice
CategoriesPlan to positively promote construction Support for careers advice

To celebrate International Women’s Day, Kelly Sowden and Sophie Dick hosted a presentation at Temple Moor High School in Leeds to Year 11 students, to promote engineering roles and role for women in engineering. They discussed the different types of engineering and how John Sisk & Son aim to increase the number of women they hire into the industry. Gender…

Brownie Group Visit

Published 3 February 2020 | No comments
Written by Jennifer Upstill
Categories Community engagement Promoting construction as a career choice Schools and nurseries
CategoriesCommunity engagement Promoting construction as a career choice Schools and nurseries

Women in the Berkeley St Edward team at Hartland Village, Fleet, visited a local Brownie group (aged 7-10 yrs) to talk about the project and the huge variety of careers in construction. We played a game which involved busting lots of myths about the industry and made sure that they knew it wasn’t just for boys! The group have recently…

Women into Construction

Published 23 September 2019 | No comments
Written by Charlotte Ross
Categories Promoting construction as a career choice Support for careers advice
CategoriesPromoting construction as a career choice Support for careers advice

Berkeley West Thames, West London College (WLC) and Women Into Construction (WIC) teamed up this summer to offer women an opportunity to kick start a career in construction by hosting a four week training programme at the West London Construction Academy (WLCA), located on Berkeley’s Southall Waterside development. The programme provided an insight into the vast career options available within…

Championing Back to Work Mums Scheme

Published 2 September 2019 | No comments
Written by Jeremy Bayliss
Categories Disadvantaged and minority groups support Reasonable working hours Recreational facilities
CategoriesDisadvantaged and minority groups support Reasonable working hours Recreational facilities

We have launched a ‘Championing Back to Work Mums’ scheme with the aim of attracting more women to return to work and get involved in the industry after having children. As a company we value women in our industry and we are committed to respect, treat fairly, encourage and support women within our company. As an incentive, we have introduced…

Plastics and Packaging Actions: Creating Bird Feeders

Published 2 September 2019 | No comments
Written by Attracta Mathews
Categories Post completion impact report Promoting construction as a career choice Schools and nurseries
CategoriesPost completion impact report Promoting construction as a career choice Schools and nurseries

GRAHAM-BAM Healthcare Partnership recently hosted 14 girls aged 10–13 from the Women’s Tec Summer Scheme GIRLTEC Academy to raise awareness of environmental considerations in construction projects. The workshop formed part of a practical visit to the GBHP Royal Victoria Hospital site to encourage female pupils to consider future careers in construction. The visit included talks and hands on activities from…

Female Specific PPE

Published 29 July 2019 | No comments
Written by Rachel Mills
Categories Disadvantaged and minority groups support PPE Workforce dress code
CategoriesDisadvantaged and minority groups support PPE Workforce dress code

After a gap in the market was discovered, our Senior Office Manager, supported by Multiplex’s Temporary Works Manager, have been working with Onsite Support and Leo to develop a dual-tone female-shaped Hi-Vis. The Broadway will be the first project for Multiplex to make this change. Ensuring details of purchasing are passed onto the supply chain, all of the women currently…

Gender Equality Video

Published 22 July 2019 | No comments
Written by Manjeeta Pathak
Categories Disadvantaged and minority groups support
CategoriesDisadvantaged and minority groups support

The construction industry lacks diversity. There are various diversity issues within the industry and there have been various attempts to tackle the issue. Gender disparity has been one of the diversity issues, as the construction industry is still predominantly male dominated. Changes take time, especially attitude changes. The unconscious biases exist in the industry and the changes in construction industry…

The Madison Workforce Development Hub

Published 21 May 2019 | No comments
Written by Celeste Koen
Categories Literacy and numeracy support Mental health Workforce development plans
CategoriesLiteracy and numeracy support Mental health Workforce development plans

A secure iPad in the canteen has been installed for the workforce to access while on their breaks. The iPad stand is adjustable and has two positions, so the user can stand up or sit down. The stool provided at the station is made out of re-used waste materials from site. The iPad is preloaded with information on the following…

Providing ‘Period Dignity’ within the Construction Industry

Published 21 January 2019 | No comments
Written by CCS Best Practice Hub Administrator
Categories Sanitary bins Suitable/accessible separate facilities Supply of free female sanitary products Toilets
CategoriesSanitary bins Suitable/accessible separate facilities Supply of free female sanitary products Toilets

Over the past few years, the construction industry has been trying to improve the diversity of the workforce by encouraging more women into the industry. However, as the industry is still fairly male orientated, there is still a risk that welfare facilities and toilets may not be suitable for female members of staff (for example there may not be clean/…

Giant Tetrahedron Challenge

Published 20 July 2018 | No comments
Written by CCS Best Practice Hub Administrator
Categories Community engagement Promoting construction as a career choice Schools and nurseries
CategoriesCommunity engagement Promoting construction as a career choice Schools and nurseries

Construction has an infamous gender imbalance which the industry needs to redress. Working with young women can help tackle false perceptions of the industry and promote construction careers. See the examples below for how one site addressed this: The site supported the local council’s Women in Engineering and STEM event for secondary school aged females. The site team delivered a…

On Site Skills Zone

Published 5 April 2018 | No comments
Written by Claire Anderson
Categories Promoting construction as a career choice Schools and nurseries
CategoriesPromoting construction as a career choice Schools and nurseries

As part of BAM Construction’s Ready, Steady, Girls Construct! Employability programme, the Blairdardie Primary School site team created an onsite skills zone to host the group. The programme, which focuses on attracting female pupils into the construction industry by providing them with industry insight, training, work experience and employability skills, was delivered over a 10 week period to a group…

Animated Video Promoting Women in Construction

Published 26 March 2018 | No comments
Written by Manjeeta Pathak
Categories Plan to positively promote construction Promoting construction as a career choice
CategoriesPlan to positively promote construction Promoting construction as a career choice

Women remain vastly underrepresented in the construction industry. I started as a graduate in Redrow Homes and they have a robust plan in place to encourage and support women. Redrow decided to make an animation video where I was able to tell my story, stating a message that construction is a great place to work and many people were able…

Girls’ horizons broadened through female-only STEM Campaign

Published 3 October 2017 | No comments
Written by Shauna Young
Categories Disadvantaged and minority groups support Promoting construction as a career choice Schools and nurseries
CategoriesDisadvantaged and minority groups support Promoting construction as a career choice Schools and nurseries

As part of Heron Bros project delivery for East Renfrewshire Council and the construction of Faith Schools Joint Campus, Crookfur PS & Nursery and Arthurlie Family Centre, they implemented the “Girls’ Horizons” Initiative to encourage females into STEM careers. In partnership with East Renfrewshire Council, BDP Architects and local schools a female-only careers event was held. More than 80 pupils…

Promoting Women in Construction

Published 18 September 2017 | No comments
Written by Gareth Drake
Categories Colleges and universities Disadvantaged and minority groups support Promoting construction as a career choice
CategoriesColleges and universities Disadvantaged and minority groups support Promoting construction as a career choice

As part of our commitment to promoting women in construction, the Interserve site team at our flagship £25M Leisure Centre project in Eastleigh, Hampshire have hosted two Women in Property breakfast meetings which have included presentations about the design and construction challenges faced as well as a site tour for those attending. The project has a number of women working…

International Women in Engineering Day

Published 18 September 2017 | No comments
Written by CCS Best Practice Hub Administrator
Categories Disadvantaged and minority groups support Promoting construction as a career choice Schools and nurseries
CategoriesDisadvantaged and minority groups support Promoting construction as a career choice Schools and nurseries

International Women in Engineering Day is an annual event organised by the Women’s Engineering Society to promote career opportunities and celebrate successful female engineers. To celebrate this day on your site you could consider: Attending and presenting at a Women in Engineering event. Conducting a visit to a local school to promote engineering careers to young women and men. Encourage…

Female PPE Initiative

Published 29 August 2017 | No comments
Written by Steve Caucutt
Categories Disadvantaged and minority groups support PPE
CategoriesDisadvantaged and minority groups support PPE

Women who work for BAM Nuttall are being supplied with workwear designed specifically for them. After a series of trials on a number of its sites in London, Leeds, Newcastle and Scotland, the company is rolling out a range of work clothing nationwide that is specifically designed for women. Working with workwear manufacturer Arco, BAM Nuttall has commissioned polo shirts,…

Encouraging Women into Construction

Published 17 August 2017 | No comments
Written by London City Island
Categories Sanitary bins Showers Suitable/accessible separate facilities Toilets Zero tolerance approach to harassment
CategoriesSanitary bins Showers Suitable/accessible separate facilities Toilets Zero tolerance approach to harassment

Reports reveal that women are expected to make up a quarter (26%) of the UK’s construction workforce by 2020. Although companies are doing more to encourage women to join the industry, 41% of women still believe men are paid more. Encouraging and retaining more women in construction is essential to filling the looming skills shortage. Ballymore is encouraging women to…

‘People Like Me’ Resource for Encouraging Girls into Construction

Published 24 July 2017 | No comments
Written by CCS Best Practice Hub Administrator
Categories Community engagement Plan to positively promote construction Promoting construction as a career choice Schools and nurseries
CategoriesCommunity engagement Plan to positively promote construction Promoting construction as a career choice Schools and nurseries

The WISE campaign seeks to achieve gender balance in STEM industries by conducting schools outreach, showcasing role models and providing consultancy and training. Drawing from research seeking to understand why certain groups are under-represented in STEM, WISE has launched its ‘People Like Me’ programme to show young girls that they could find fulfilling careers in STEM. Psychological research shows that girls…

Inspiring Women in our Industry

Published 11 July 2017 | No comments
Written by Andrew Sharp
Categories Disadvantaged and minority groups support Plan to positively promote construction
CategoriesDisadvantaged and minority groups support Plan to positively promote construction

To celebrate International Women in Engineering Day, we developed a series of short bios of women in our business. Drawing from a broad cross section of disciplines and experience from within the project, our leadership team worked with women to capture and celebrate their own journey in engineering and construction. As well as capturing their stories, we encouraged our women…

Inspiring Girls into Construction

Published 26 June 2017 | No comments
Written by Claire Anderson
Categories Promoting construction as a career choice Schools and nurseries
CategoriesPromoting construction as a career choice Schools and nurseries

Pupils from four schools in East Renfrewshire recently attended an informative workshop hosted by BAM Construction. Held at Barrhead High School, a live construction site, the event was designed to inspire girls to consider construction as a career. Third to fifth year pupils were selected to take part from Williamwood High School, St Ninians, Woodfarm High School and St Luke’s…

Offering Work Placements for Women into Construction mMmbers

Published 4 April 2017 | No comments
Written by Wai-Keat Ngai
Categories Career planning and progression for employed staff Disadvantaged and minority groups support Inclusivity and diversity
CategoriesCareer planning and progression for employed staff Disadvantaged and minority groups support Inclusivity and diversity

As part of a greater effort to introduce new talent into the industry, Crossrail Paddington offered short term work placements and CV Workshops to members of Women into Construction (WiC), giving them the opportunity to develop their skills and gain further project experience. Aliona supported the commercial team as an assistant to help produce subcontract agreement for various work packages;…

International Women’s Day

Published 7 March 2017 | No comments
Written by Jack Endean
Categories Disadvantaged and minority groups support Plan to positively promote construction
CategoriesDisadvantaged and minority groups support Plan to positively promote construction

International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. To support International Women’s Day on your site, you could do the following: Support and participate in ‘Women in Construction’ events; Have a robust equality and diversity policy ensuring men and women are treated equally; Visit the ‘International Women’s Day’ website to view resources…

Getting the Girl Guides Involved in Construction

Published 25 October 2016 | No comments
Written by James Ford
Categories Community engagement Plan to positively promote construction Promoting construction as a career choice
CategoriesCommunity engagement Plan to positively promote construction Promoting construction as a career choice

The construction site was based in a remote area with no direct neighbours so we went out to the local Girl Guides group to try and get them involved in construction. They had the annual International Jamboree which they wanted to create an archway for their camp site which they requested we helped with. Using timber that was going spare…

Mace’s ‘Building Futures’ programme

Published 10 October 2016 | No comments
Written by Laura Hampson
Categories Colleges and universities Promoting construction as a career choice Schools and nurseries
CategoriesColleges and universities Promoting construction as a career choice Schools and nurseries

One of the problems that exists when talking to young people about careers in construction is the lack of understanding about the variety of different roles available. Both teachers and school children are unaware of the scope with a career in construction and can limit the options of students because of preconceptions about who would be suitable to work in…

Celebrating National Women in Engineering Day

Published 6 July 2016 | No comments
Written by Andrew Sharp
Categories Disadvantaged and minority groups support Schools and nurseries Support for careers advice
CategoriesDisadvantaged and minority groups support Schools and nurseries Support for careers advice

To celebrate women in engineering and support and encourage more women to consider a career in engineering or construction, we developed a series of activities to celebrate National Women in Engineering Day (NWED). These encouraged staff to take the opportunity to understand a bit more about how the role of women in engineering has changed and continues to change in…

CITB’s Be Fair Framework

Published 5 November 2014 | No comments
Written by CCS Best Practice Hub Administrator
Categories EDI/FIR training
CategoriesEDI/FIR training

A key requirement of the Scheme’s Code of Considerate Practice is to provide a workplace where everyone is respected, treated fairly, encouraged, supported and made to feel valued as an employee. All members of the workforce must be treated fairly and without discrimination. An ‘inclusion’ policy should demonstrate commitment to equality, diversity and respect amongst the workforce. Many companies are turning to CITB’s…

Close case studies

Case studies

Women interested in a career in construction need to hear from successful women in the industry, as female role models are essential in helping to engage more women into the industry.

Get inspired by women across our industry who share their story and offer advice to those aspiring for a career in construction.

Aby Wallace is Site Manager at Robertson. Aby completed a Construction Management qualification at University, and since graduating has progressed to being a site manager.

Read her case study here.

Caroline Barker is a civil engineer by profession and a Monitor for the Considerate Constructors Scheme. She is actively involved in the effort to improve the image of the industry and encourage people from diverse backgrounds to consider a career in construction. Read her case study here.

Claudia Carroll is a site engineer for Danaher and Walsh. Claudia has been in the industry since August 2020 having graduated from Loughborough University. She is currently working on a project involving the construction of two new road bridges in central Leicester. Read her case study here.

Eillish Kwai is the Employment and Skills Manager at Ardmore. She is actively involved with the Women into Construction organisation, providing women with advice, training and job opportunities in the industry. Read her case study here.

Hayley Gill is Site Manager at Robertson Construction. Hayley did work experience on a site at 15 and is now attending College to gain qualifications in Construction Management.

Read her case study here.

Kath Moore is a qualified carpenter by trade and the Managing Director of Women into Construction, a not-for-profit organisation supporting women wishing to work in the construction industry.

Read her case study here.

Jo Bowditch is a Monitor with the Considerate Constructors Scheme. As a Monitor, Jo gets to visit construction projects of all types and interact with the people working in the industry.

Read her case study here.

Katie Kelleher is a crawler crane operator working for Select/Laing O’Rourke. Katie worked in recruitment before starting an apprenticeship in October 2014. She has been working on the Tottenham Court Road Crossrail site since May 2015. Read her case study here.

Laura Doherty is Site Manager at Robertson Construction. Laura has worked in the industry since she left school and has worked in Civil Engineering, Utilities and House Building.

Read her case study here.

Leanne O’Donovan is an Assistant Site Manager at L&Q. Leanne carried out work experience at L&Q, fell in love with the industry and has worked in it ever since.

Read her case study here.

Liz Moss is an Apprentice Site Manager at Morgan Sindall. Liz completed her Extended Level 3 Diploma in Construction and the Built Environment and was encouraged to explore work experience and apprenticeship opportunities.

Read her case study here.

Lynette Whittle is a Monitor with the Considerate Constructors Scheme. As a Monitor, Lynette gets to visit construction projects of all types and interact with the people working in the industry.

Read her case study here.

Margaret Conway is a Project Manager for McAleer & Rushe. In 2017 she became the first woman to win the Construction Manager of the Year Award for her work on the 9 Adelaide project in Belfast. Read her case study here.

Megan Robinson is a Technical Coordinator at Barratt Developments plc and co-founder of Built by Both, a campaign to inspire young women to embark on careers in the built environment. Read her case study here.

Michèle Dix is Managing Director of Crossrail 2, a new railway which will improve access to and from London and reduce congestion on existing rail services. Before moving to Crossrail, Michèle worked as Director of Congestion Charging at Transport for London. Read her case study here.
Mollie Phipps is an Intermediate Quantity Surveyor, at Watson & Cox Construction. Mollie was interested in Architecture from the age of 6, and has completed many qualifications to reach her current role.

Read her case study here.

Nayera Aslam is Aviation Engineering Manager for AECOM. Nayera was interested in an engineering career by technical feats like the Channel Tunnel and the Hoover Dam and has since worked on projects including the London 2012 Olympics. Read her case study here.

Nicola Jackson is a Technical Manager at Robertson. When Nicola was 14 she gained work experience at an architecture firm and from this point decided this was the career path for her.

Read her case study here.

Noelene Russell is an Architectural Assistant at Claridge Architects. She was attracted to architecture by its artistic nature and is currently working on a large development project in Plymouth. Read her case study here.

Roma Agrawal is a Structural Engineer at AECOM. Throughout her career she has worked on major projects, including The Shard, and appeared on television and radio promoting engineering careers to young people. Read her case study here.

Ruby Lee is a Trainee Site Manager with Berkeley Homes. She had never considered a construction career until attending a careers event where Berkeley were present. She has been working on the Kidbrooke Village site since September 2017. Read her case study here.
Sally Cave is the first qualified female Gas Membrane Installer in the UK. She began working at her father’s installation company in administration but trained to become qualified for on-site work. Read her case study here.

Savannah Williams-Duberry is an Architectural Assistant Apprentice at L&Q. Savannah wanted to gain knowledge of buildings and properties, which led her to architecture.

Read her case study here.

Shannon Dawe is a Community Impact Advisor at Robertson. Shannon’s role is centred around planning, delivering, and reporting on social value within the communities they work.

Read her case study here.

Stephanie Bennett is a trainee Quantity Surveyor with Morgan Sindall. She worked in administration before becoming a surveyor and is currently being supported through university by Morgan Sindall. Read her case study here.

Victoria Betts is a senior Site Manager at Higgins Construction working on the Gabriel Square project in St. Albans. She started in the industry working with her father for a general building company carrying out plastering, tiling and kitchen installation. Read her case study here.

Yosra Khalaf is a Site Manager at Peabody. Yosra studied Civil Engineering at University before moving to the UK and working her way up to becoming a Site Manager.

Read her case study here.

Close law and legislation

Law and legislation

The following law and legislation are relevant to helping address the obstacles faced by women in the workplace.  Everyone has the right to be treated fairly and not to suffer any form of less favourable treatment on the basis of their sex.

Equality Act 2010

The Equality Act superseded earlier legislation including the Equal Pay Act 1970 and the Sex Discrimination Act 1975. The Act requires equal treatment in access to employment, as well as private and public services regardless of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.

For Government guidance on the Act, click here.

Gender pay gap reporting

From April 2017, UK employers with over 250 staff are required to publish statistics on the gender pay gap in their organisation. This provision of the Equality Act will apply to a number of UK construction organisations.

For Government guidance on mandatory gender pay gap reporting, click here.

To read Acas’s guidance on pay gap reporting, click here.

Close External resources

External resources

Gender diversity is a huge issue in the construction industry today. There are numerous organisations and initiatives committed to encouraging women into the construction industry.

Organisations

What is the industry doing?

  • Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) released a video called ‘Building Tomorrow’ profiling women in construction. Watch the video here. They have also launched a video blog series featuring a young female construction student using the hashtag #elliethebuilder. Watch the series here.
  • Construction Industry Council (CIC)’s Diversity Panel is a collaborative forum for members of all construction disciplines and professional bodies to identify and promote diversity policies in the construction industry. For more information, click here.
  • Construction Industry Federation Ireland is encouraging women in the industry to share their stories as part of its Building Equality campaign.
  • Construction Industry Training Board (CITB)’s BeFair accreditation framework aims to raise awareness about fairness, inclusion, respect and equal pay among construction companies.
  • CITB Northern Ireland run the Women in Construction Network Northern Ireland which provides site visits and seminars and gives an opportunity for women in the industry to network and experience different elements of the construction industry. The network also showcases case studies of women in the industry and runs events promoting construction among schoolchildren. For more information click here.
  • Construction Youth Trust has a #notjustforboys campaign which showcases role models and hosts careers courses for young people, such as the Budding Brunel’s programme. Find out more here. To read the Smith Institute’s 2016 #notjustforboys report covering the whole spectrum of the issue, click here.
  • Federation of Master Builders challenge stereotypes that women cannot be involved with manual building work by citing women’s involvement in domestic DIY.
  • Go Construct highlights career opportunities for women by compiling information, case studies, links and personality quizzes. Find out more here.
  • Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) provides guides on how employers can implement diversity and inclusion. Their Inclusive Employer Quality Mark encourages companies to sign up and commit to improving inclusivity along six principles. To read RICS’s report detailing the initiative, click here.
  • Active Training Team are a provider of immersive, experiential safety training. They also produce a quarterly podcast on a specific issue, one being on the topic of women in construction. To listen to this podcast, please click here.

What are contractors doing?

  • Ardmore worked with Women into Construction to support female graduates into employment on the Olympic Park site. This work has continued, and Ardmore continue to promote construction as a career choice and place female construction workers on their sites.
  • BAM Nuttall has launched a range of work clothing specifically designed for women. The company is also using its highway vans as mobile advertising hoardings to encourage women to consider a career in construction.
  • Ballymore is encouraging women to join the industry by promoting career opportunities and providing additional support to women in the workplace. They recently interviewed women working on their London City Island project about their experiences in the industry. Read more here.
  • BechtelBouygues and BRE Group host women’s networking forums for all genders to share advice and identify role models.
  • Crossrail is seeking to boost the representation of women working in construction. Almost one third of jobs with Crossrail are filled by women and they are conducting school visits and working with Women into Construction to place more women into the company.
  • Durkan worked for a decade with Lambeth Council Building Work for Women and Women and Manual Trades to build a sustainable pipeline of female apprentices.
  • Laing O’Rourke has a PeopleFIRST (Fairness, Inclusion, Respect and Sustaining Talent) programme to create a workforce that reflects society by making the company appealing to people from diverse backgrounds. Find out more here.
  • Lendlease promotes women in construction as part of its commitment to diversity, with campaigns to increase the visibility of women in the industry.
  • Mace’s Women of the Future programme is a key part of their gender diversity policy. Run in partnership with WISE, the programme seeks to help participants reach their potential by building their skills, networks and confidence. Read more here.
  • Willmott Dixon is the only construction firm represented on the Women’s Business Council, which advises the Government on how women’s contribution to economic growth can be optimised. Watch their video on women in construction here.
  • Women Returners is a consultancy service for women returning from a career break. Amey, Balfour Beatty, Skanska and Tideway are among those offering returnships.

References

  • The Scheme has sourced information from across the construction industry as well as organisations and studies from the across the world. View these references here.
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