Research has found that 20% of UK construction businesses do not feature women in any senior positions. With some industry professionals believing that there is ‘a definite prejudice against women’ in the construction industry, there appears to still be an inequality of opportunity for women.
Gender equality in the workplace is a pressing issue in 2018 and looks set to continue to be so for years to come. However, 50% of all construction companies states that they have never had a female manager, according to Construction News — a shocking figure when gender diversity and equality is so well discussed. What is even more striking is that, when asking the women who did work within the industry, 48% claimed they had experienced gender discrimination in the workplace, with the most common example of this (28%) being inappropriate comments or behaviour from male colleagues. These are figures that prove that the industry still needs to enforce more regulations to change attitudes towards women in the industry and encourage equality.
The subject of pay and the disparity of this between sexes in construction is also a topic in need of discussion. Nearly half of construction companies (42%) do not monitor equal pay between gender in the business and 68% were not aware of any initiatives to support women transitioning into senior roles. Furthermore, according to Randstad, 79% of men believe they earn the same as their female colleagues in the same position. However, 41% of women disagree — highlighting the need for better pay transparency within the industry to dispel perceptions that men are earning more.
Here to explore the gender divide within the construction sector is Niftylift, a specialist in Aerial Work Platform , which will look at how professionals can close the gender gap and improve diversity in construction roles.
The future of construction for women
Almost all — 99% — of on-site construction workers are male, which is another figure that highlights the lack of gender diversity within the industry. Despite the figures, 93% of construction workers believe having a female boss would not affect their jobs, or would in fact have a positive effect by improving the working environment.
Fortunately, the future looks brighter for women who wish to have a career in construction, with the workforce expected to consist of just over a quarter of women by 2020, according to Randstad. If the industry intends on closing the skills gap, women could potentially hold the key. With the industry raising concerns that it is experiencing a shortage of skilled workers, 82% of people working in construction agree that there is a serious skills shortage. If demand is expected to require an additional million extra workers by 2020, women could account for a significant portion of that — especially in senior roles, which have previously been bias towards their male colleagues.
With regard to senior positions, it’s hoped that more women will start to take up these roles soon, too. In fact, we have already experienced some progress recently. In 2005, there were just 6% of women in senior roles within the UK’s construction industry. However, fast forward to 2015, and this number had risen to 16% and is expected to continue to rise as we approach 2020.
On a similar positive note, women in construction appear to be feeling more positive and fulfilled by their jobs. In 2005, an unfortunate 79% of women in the industry were dissatisfied with the progression of their careers. However, fast forward to 2015, and this number more than halved to just 29%, with some of this progression likely to be attributed to the fact that almost half of women in the industry (49%) believe their employer to be very supportive of women in construction.
Unfortunately, the fight for gender equality in construction is not over. Ranstad also reports that there remains a tendency within the industry to exclude women from male conversations or social events, with 46% of females stating that have experienced being ‘sidelined’. A further 28% said they had been offered a less important role and 25% reported being passed over for promotion.
In spite of the above stats, many women in construction still appear to advocate a job in the industry. In fact, over three quarters stated that they’d recommend it to a female friend, daughter or niece. Considering that there has been a 60% rise in the average annual salary for women in the industry in the past decade from £24,500 in 2005 to £39,200 in 2015, there is no denying that at least some progress is being made to combat gender inequality. But we still have a long way to go. Hopefully, by 2020, we can report further progress in the industry, making roles more attractive to females, and improving the gender diversity which could consequently prove to be a solution to the lack of skilled workers for the industry right now.