Is there any room for women in construction management?
There’s a short answer to this question, which is yes, but unfortunately, the construction industry has not always welcomed women in with open arms, let alone into management positions. This was mostly due to the myths of gender-specific roles and outdated views on physical labour only suiting men, but things are beginning to change.
Women in Construction: challenging gender inequality, an article by CHAS explains that the construction industry only has a small proportion of jobs held by women (just 15% of the UK construction workforce) and it has been like that for years.
However, women working in construction are beginning to hold all kinds of roles, including at FTSE Board level. In fact, a 2021 government survey found the number of women on FTSE boards is up by 50% in just five years meaning more than a third (34.3%) of FTSE 350 board positions are now held by women. You can read the press release here.
Women in construction related roles
At Go Construct we know that there are plenty of inspirational women in construction doing fantastic work across the industry already, but we need to keep hearing their stories and pushing the boundaries to get more of them into as many roles as possible.
Previous forecasts indicated that we can expect 168,500 construction jobs to be created between 2019 and 2023, which is up from the 2018 – 2022 figure of 158,000, so there’s clearly going to be plenty of opportunities available.
Women in management related roles
Even with this boom in available roles in construction, there’s still only few women in senior roles, with five women CEOs and eight women chairs in the FTSE 100. The Women and the Economy report revealed only 8% of SME employers are led by women in the construction, transportation, and storage sector.
Law firm Heidrick & Struggles suggests that progress in this department has been slow because companies tend to stick to what they know and only appoint chairs who already have experience. In fact, 69% of those appointed last year had previously served on company boards.
Alice Breeden, partner and global lead at Heidrick & Struggles told HR magazine:
“Bringing about change and having more diverse boards is a challenge for a number of reasons. One issue is the tendency to stick with what has worked previously, as opposed to seeking out those with more diverse experience…”
So how do we change this?
Breaking the glass ceiling
We know that women have been making important headway in construction for a long time, even being at the front of some construction industry ‘firsts’, but to keep pushing for more women leaders in the construction industry, more glass ceilings need to be shattered.
Some companies are actively backing the cause for more women in construction and at a senior level. Laing O’Rourke has announced that it’s aiming to employ as many women as men by 2033. The company has a global workforce of around 5,500 people. CEO Ray O’Rourke stated:
“We’ve made progress delivering our environmental plan, but the simple fact is the climate emergency demands we do more and with greater urgency. The same is true of diversity, which remains unacceptably low in our sector.”
O’Rourke is comparing the need for diversity in construction to climate change, which indicates just how important the issue is. More companies are realising that by making leadership roles available to women, it actually improves the working landscape for everyone as it encourages more flexible working hours, more effective complaints procedures, and better training techniques.
But perhaps the most challenging of glass ceilings is the gender pay gap within construction. To attract women to the industry, pay will need to be addressed because if women in senior positions are not being offered the same as their male counterparts, it’s not an attractive option.
Becoming a Construction Manager
It’s more important than ever for women to make headway in the construction industry. The roles are available and diverse. There is truly something for everyone.
Construction managers are all about planning and staying on budget. If you have the skills already, or want to know how to get them, see our construction manager page which will help you find the best route for you.
You might also want to take a look at team leader roles, which can include being a line manager or supervisor.
Not sure yet which role in construction is best for you? Take our personality quiz and find out.