Where are the Female Leaders in the Construction Industry?

If you have been following the Construction News coverage of women in construction this week I am sure you will agree the statistics presented highlight worrying questions about the state of gender diversity in the industry.
That women make up a fraction of the workforce is not new news. That women continue to fill a fraction of leadership roles with little sign of improvement should be a concern.
In 2014 CN reported that the percentage of women working in the industry was just 12 per cent and there were only 21 women on the boards of the top 20 UK contractors.
In Q4 last year, women formed 12.8 per cent of the workforce, but CN analysis reveals there are fewer women on the boards of the top 20 today than there were three years ago.

That’s not to say contractors are to blame – the situation isn’t much better among property developers, engineering consultants or architects. This is an industry-wide issue.

In 2015, the Construction News barometer found that half of leaders at the UK’s biggest contractors believed their companies employed sufficient numbers of women and those from ethnic minorities. This clearly was not the case, there are signs now that the conversation is changing, moving away from, ‘Do women want to work in construction,’ to questions like, ‘How do we offer flexible working, return-to-work schemes and why does gender diversity lead to better business?’

Just as the industry needs more men to campaign for gender diversity and ridicule outdated views, it needs visible female role models.
If more women can get into senior positions in construction, she says, perhaps there will be a snowball effect.
We also profiled women this week enjoying careers from crane operators to technical directors. The industry is not short of people willing to change and to shape the debate.
And while HS2’s commercial director Beth West rightly points out that “no woman wants to be on a board just because she’s a woman”, for this industry to change, women who are successful leaders can inspire others to consider a career in this industry.
International Women’s Day is an opportune time for us to devote widespread coverage to the issue of gender diversity in this industry.

Intersect Global are members of organisations such as WISE, Women in Science and Engineering and have been actively trying to play our part in the helping improve the diversity of women within our industry, there is a long road ahead to bring things to an equal footing but we really hope that one day this will be a reality.

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