Some professionals in the industry believe that ‘there is a definite prejudice against women’ in the construction industry and it still seems that there is an inequality of opportunity for women.
Construction News states that 50% of construction firms have never employed a female manager within their business, which is a shocking figure as gender equality and diversity is such a pressing issue. Even more striking is the fact that 48% of women had 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.
It is also noticeable that a gender pay gap is also an issue within the industry. Forty-two percent of construction companies claim they don’t monitor their pay between gender in the business and 68% didn’t know 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.
With such a clear gender divide apparent within the industry, Niftylift, work platform specialists, explore ways in which the industry can close the gender gap and improve diversity among roles. What does the future look like for women in construction?
Statistics reveal that 99% of roles in on-site construction are filled by males. 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.
However, Randstad has revealed that women are expected to make up over a quarter of the UK’s construction workforce by 2020. 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.
We may still see a significant difference in the number of females who have a senior job role compared to male colleagues, but we have still experienced a degree of progress over recent years. Back 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.
Similar progression is apparent when it comes to construction companies offering promotion opportunities for women in the industry. Back in 2005, an unfortunate 79% of women in the industry were dissatisfied with the progression of their careers. However, fast forward again 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.
These figures may show promise, but it’s evident that work is still needed to achieve the goal of gender equality in the construction industry. Randstad also reports that there remains a tendency within the industry to exclude women from male conversations or social events, with 46% of females experiencing being sidelined. A further 28% said they had been offered a less important role and 25% reported being passed over for promotion.
"Statistics reveal that 99 of roles in on-site construction are filled by males."
However, even though these incidences of discrimination are apparent, 76% of women would still recommend a job in the construction industry to their female friends or family members — and with a 60% increase 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 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.
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