Bridging The Gender Gap In Construction: The Future Of The Industry 

In an industry often plagued by outdated stereotypes, it comes as no surprise to find out that the gender pay gap in the UK’s construction industry (20%) is higher than the national average, which currently sits around the 18% mark. 

While many initiatives have been implemented over the last decade in an effort to bridge the gender gap in the construction sector, the reality is that women are still grossly underrepresented in one of the most economically-crucial industries in the Britain, with female workers accounting for only 12.5% of the total workforce – a number that sits at around 3.1 million people, just over 9% of the national workforce. 

The vast majority of the women accounted for in these 12.5% hold roles in engineering, design and administrative positions, with trade-specific roles being eschewed in favour of office-based positions as a result of a number of factors, from lack of information regarding qualifications and viable career paths to workplace gender discrimination. 

In a bid to counter these patterns and get more women interested in a career in construction, the Considerate Constructors Scheme has launched the “Spotlight on… the next generation” campaign, through which they hope to provide essential information and resources to the future workforce. 

A survey of 800 workers conducted across both the British and Irish construction industries found that 84% of respondents believe a career in construction is still such an unpopular choice due to the ongoing perception that construction equals manual work and little else. 

When asked how this could be discouraged and perceptions changed, 37% of the survey-takers encouraged the promotion of the benefits that come with working in the industry, and 26% suggested engaging schools and colleges directly to try to present a career in construction as a viable choice to the younger generations

However, while changing the perception of the industry may be key in addressing the skills shortage currently pulling construction down, much is still to be done in the industry itself, starting with creating safer and more inclusive environments where every individual can feel welcomed, regardless of their gender, sex, race, creed, or personal beliefs. 

And while much of this work can be done at a company level, there is much more that can be done outside of the building site, starting with encouraging female students to pursue STEM subjects in school that could be useful for a position within the sector – the majority of which are to this day still heavily skewed with overwhelming numbers of male students. 

Another way to let people know of the variety of roles available in the industry, and how different these all are, could be through holding introductory days, either at schools and colleges or at major industry events, breaking down the jobs to their bare essentials and the day-to-day run through. 

With 210,000 job vacancies to fill in the industry by 2023 to compensate for the workers who left at the height of the pandemic, it is now more important than ever to engage an inclusive and diverse workforce and bring the construction industry into the 21st century once and for all. 

What other ways would you suggest to get more people interested in a career in construction? Get in touch in the comments below and let us know. 

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