It is March 8th, 2017 – International Women’s Day #IWD2017. All around the world women are uniting to assert their right to be heard, to be treated with respect, to have the same opportunities as their male counterparts. But how well does the construction industry measure up on these issues? According to UCATT, women make up just 11% of the construction work force. In some areas, such as roofing, their numbers are so low as to be unmeasurable by the Office for National Statistics.
The problems facing women on site range from practical issues such as inadequate facilities or protective clothing not fitting properly, to lower pay than male counterparts, lack of promotion prospects and harassment.
The situation is not much better off site, with one in five women in the 2016 worldwide Women in Architecture survey saying they would not recommend a career in architecture to other women.
If the moral issue raised by these statistics and other concerns is not enough to galvanise companies into action, there is also a practical incentive. The well documented skills shortage is going to be one of the greatest stumbling blocks for the future of the construction industry in the UK. With obstacles like conditions and general attitudes remaining a problem, it is going to be very difficult to convince young women entering the job market that construction is a worthwhile career. That means that the talent and ability of half of the potential work force will not be made available to help deliver the pipeline of work.
The campaign theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is “Be Bold for Change”. Where better to make that bold change than in construction?
We can all help to bring about change, by challenging perceptions, dealing fairly and providing support.
The next blog in this series looks in more detail at the skills shortage, and how it could impact on the future of the construction industry.
Proud sponsors of the Women in Roofing Conference.