Construction and gender
It is vitally important that gender equality continues to improve in the construction industry. Women make up 14% of the construction workforce, but misconceptions about gender attitudes in the industry remain.
Women in the construction industry
Attracting more women to a career in construction is essential if the skills shortage is to be closed. Women, and people who identify as women, bring a diverse range of skills which will benefit employers and enrich the construction industry.
There are a huge variety of roles available to women in construction, from bricklaying to surveying, civil engineering to health and safety management. Women find their way into the industry via a number of routes, including apprenticeships, construction traineeships and graduate schemes.
Gender diversity in construction
Transgender and non-binary people should also feel welcome in the construction industry. Sadly, discrimination and old-fashioned attitudes have been common. However, awareness of gender diversity is growing. Increasingly the stories of people who identify differently to the gender of their birth are being heard in construction.
LGBT+ networks are growing across the industry, and CITB’s Be Fair Framework provides a structured approach to developing fairness, inclusion and respect in construction.
“But it’s not women’s work?”
For too long the construction industry has laboured under the stereotype of the male-dominated building site. Safety wear was made to fit men, not women; tools were too heavy and led to more on-site injuries for women.
But things are changing. Women are positively encouraged to apply for on-site roles, PPE is now tailored for women and 37% of new entrants into construction from higher education are women. It is no longer acceptable for employers to discriminate against women working in the industry.
The gender pay gap
More work needs to be done to address the differences in how much women are paid compared to men in construction. In a 2019 survey, the overall UK gender pay gap was 18%, but in the construction industry it was worse, at 20%. At entry-level, women were paid 3.5% less than men, and it can reach 23% for workers between the ages of 46-65.
Increased diversity and inclusion in the workplace needs to be accompanied by a commitment to greater equality in how women are paid. The more women working in construction the greater voice and representation they will have.
Real life stories
Hear from women doing real jobs in construction right now.