The building and construction industry contributes over £92 million1 to the UK economy, but currently suffers from a serious lack of gender diversity. Just 11%2 of the workforce is made up of women – and many are in office-based, secretarial, design or management roles. On the building site, it’s estimated that 99% of workers are men3.
So why aren’t more women choosing to start a career in construction, and more importantly, why aren’t companies doing more to encourage them?
Breaking down the barriers
- Sexism – men dominate the construction industry and this makes it difficult for women to be treated equally. Indeed, 50% of women already in the industry say men are treated better.4
- Pay gap – according to the Office for National Statistics, when women do break into the construction industry, they’re typically paid 23%5 less than men doing the same job. That equates to an hourly rate of £9.20 for women and £12.00 for men.
- Lack of education – when questioned in a survey by construction firm Redrow6, only 29% of women aged 16-25 said they’d received careers advice about this sector, compared with 40% of men.
- Ignorance of impending skills shortage – most companies are blissfully unaware that the number of younger people coming into the industry is reducing. By 2025 there will be 750,000 fewer people aged 16-49. Factor in the current employment rates for those two age groups, with just 69% of 50-64 year olds in paid work, compared to 83% of 16-49 year olds, and what you’re left with is a pretty serious skills shortage. (http://www.jelfgroup.com/blog/2017/employee-benefits/employee-retention-beating-skills-shortage/)
Construction needs women
Over the next few years, it’s estimated that we’ll need another million workers to cope with a boom in the construction industry – and it’s predicted that women could make up a quarter of the workforce by 2020 . But before that can happen, businesses will need to take a more open-minded approach and ensure working conditions for women are improved.
If you’d like to know more about women in construction, take a look at our infographic below.