Women in Construction: Addressing the Gender Imbalance

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Woman working in construction

 

Gender imbalance remains a pervasive issue in the construction industry in the UK, with women making up just 15% of the construction workforce. International Women’s Day, which takes place on March 8th, is an opportunity to bring attention to this issue and to challenge the barriers and biases that prevent women from advancing in the industry.

In this article, we will explore some of the key challenges that women face in within construction and discuss how we can work towards a more equitable and inclusive environment.

Discrimination experienced by women in construction

Despite progress being made in recent years, women still experience barriers in accessing the industry and face challenges once they are in it. According to a recent survey, 78% of tradeswomen face discrimination in their role.

Sadly, the fear of discrimination is one of the main reasons why many women avoid construction jobs. Considering how significant the gender imbalance is, it is not surprising that they feel this way.

It’s no easy task to restore balance to an industry once it has become male-dominated. So, it is essential that these issues are addressed as a priority to create a more inclusive workplace for women in construction.

This can be achieved through education and training, the implementation of diversity and inclusion policies, and promoting gender equality initiatives.

Pay and Career Advancement Inequity

Another significant challenge facing women in construction is pay and career advancement inequity. In a recent study tradeswomen earn 28% less than their male counterparts, despite having the same qualifications and experience.

To address this, construction companies must work to eliminate pay and career advancement disparities, prioritising equal pay and opportunity for all employees, regardless of gender.

Limited Female Role Models and Mentors

Another challenge facing women in construction is the lack of female role models and mentors. It can be difficult for women to find mentors and advocates who can offer support and guidance.

To address this, construction companies must provide better networking opportunities at all levels of the organisation.

This can include creating women’s networking groups, establishing mentoring programmes, and offering training and development opportunities specifically for women.

Unsafe Working Conditions

For women working in construction, the physical demands of the job can be a significant challenge. Unsafe working conditions, including inadequate facilities and a lack of personal protective equipment designed for women, can put women at risk of injury and illness.

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) showed that 57% of those women who took part found that their PPE can hamper their work.

To address this, construction companies must prioritise the safety and wellbeing of all employees, including women. This can include providing gender-neutral personal protective equipment, improving facilities and amenities, and implementing policies that prioritise employee health and safety.

Lack of Flexibility

Finally, due to the physically demanding nature of construction work and long hours away from home, it can be challenging to balance work and personal life, which may deter women from entering the field.

However, construction companies are beginning to recognise the importance of flexibility for workers with family responsibilities. Innovative construction project management techniques such as remote work, job sharing, and flexible time off are being implemented to accommodate these needs.

 

 

Breaking Down Barriers

In conclusion, gender inequality remains a pressing issue in the UK construction industry, but it is one that can be addressed through the collective efforts of all stakeholders.

We believe it’s necessary to begin tackling these challenges at school level. It is important for girls to perceive construction as a viable and attractive career option, so that they can establish a solid foundation for pursuing such opportunities later on in life.

When appealing to young women, you can’t underestimate the importance of representation. By providing equal opportunities, challenging traditional gender roles, and creating inclusive work environments, the industry can attract and retain more female talent, which will ultimately contribute to the industry’s growth and success.

On International Women’s Day, let us reflect on the progress made and recommit to taking further action to ensure that gender equality is no longer just a goal, but a reality in the UK construction industry.

This article, as with all other articles we produce, is for guidance purposes only. It does not constitute formal advice and should not be relied upon as such. For bespoke, unbiased advice relating to your commercial roofing project please contact us and we would be pleased to assist.

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