Women in Construction: Changing Perceptions

Sarah Jones
I work for Faithful+Gould as one of its Senior Building Surveyors. Having worked in the industry for some time now, I really love the diversity of the role and the challenges it throws at me on a daily basis.

One day I can be in the office working on a new business proposal and the next I can be out on site conducting a condition survey for a house or office block. In fact, currently I can be found on site, coordinating the helicopter airlift of vital building materials and equipment.

Working in the construction industry certainly wasn’t what I had in mind when starting out on the road to a career. Looking back at the careers advice I received as a youngster, the construction industry was never even presented to me as an option. Initially, it was my father – a property developer running a family owned company – who suggested that I should think about construction as a career path. With a view to one day running his property portfolio, I decided to do a RICS accredited Construction and the Built Environment conversion course on top of the Business and Marketing degree I’d already achieved at Glamorgan University.

I really do think that the construction industry has moved on in recent years in its attempt to attract not only women, but a range of people from diverse backgrounds.

I really do think that the construction industry has moved on in recent years in its attempt to attract not only women, but a range of people from diverse backgrounds. However, I still feel there is more work to do. For instance, there aren’t enough senior figures in the industry that are female. With this in mind, it is imperative that it does more to highlight those few senior females it does have so that young women have role models to aspire to when considering the industry and its opportunities for career progression.

Changing outside perceptions of the industry is also crucial. More could be done to demonstrate to various diverse groups...

Changing outside perceptions of the industry is also crucial. More could be done to demonstrate to various diverse groups – in particular women – what roles and career prospects are open to them. From talking to many young women, it is clear that lots of them are put off the industry because they feel it is male dominated and largely based in on-site manual labour. This is certainly not the case, and is a myth that can be remedied by supplying young people with more information when they start thinking about their future career path.

From talking to many young women, it is clear that lots of them are put off the industry because they feel it is male dominated and largely based in on-site manual labour.

Although it’s gaining quite a lot of attention in the media at the moment, I really don’t think the idea of bringing in compulsory boardroom quotas is the way forward when looking to promote greater female influence at board level across different industry sectors. In fact, I think it would cause resentment among females and their male colleagues in terms of senior level promotions. Also all the women I know in senior positions have got to where they are because of their hard work – not because they are needed to fill a quota.

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