Have you ever wondered why construction is still such a male-dominated industry? Did you know that young girls fear to start a career in construction, even though it interests them? Find out why we need more women in construction and what we should do to achieve it!
Try to imagine a construction site. Do you see only male workers or are there women as well? Well, you probably visualised only men, as after centuries, our society has managed to build a strong stereotype with no place for women in construction. However, the official numbers prove that wrong as women make around 11% of the workforce now. Still, they are often treated like an additional aspect to “the man's job”.
In the past, construction works were closely associated with men as they required huge physical strength. However, this is not the case anymore, as nowadays, machines and heavy equipment support people in most processes. Even though the physical barriers were overcome, the mental ones, such as stereotypes about women in construction, are still present in society.
According to Dr Phillippa Carnemolla from UTS School of Built Environment, it has a strong impact on young girls who are choosing their careers. Since they do not see or hear about women in construction, they cannot imagine themselves in these positions, even if they are interested! Also, they fear that they will not be heard or respected in the male-dominated environment.
The fears expressed by little girls in Dr Carnemolla’s research are justified in real life, as even 60% of women experienced sex discrimination in their workplace. As soon as we hear the phrase sex discrimination, we think about some chauvinistic comments or constant explicit acts of humiliation directed at women. Luckily, such a way of treatment is no longer common in construction. Instead, unequal treatment can manifest itself in seemingly less significant actions, like not providing additional or properly fitted equipment for women, as they are tailored to men’s needs only.
Unequal treatment of women and men in the industry can also be done by ignoring the needs of women who became mothers. Most women who join the construction industry want to become mothers in the future, but as nobody talks about their challenges or needs, they fear juggling work with motherhood.
Another issue in the industry is payment inequalities. Still, even though companies do not talk about it openly, women with identical responsibilities or in the same positions, earn less than their male colleagues. This issue is extremely hard to address as even 43% of companies do not actively monitor gender pay gaps.
As Dr Carnemolla’s research proves, we need to talk about women in construction to show young generations that both sexes should be equally appreciated in the industry. We must change our mentality and fight the stereotype that is no longer applicable in real life. The numbers speak for themselves:
Luckily, the mentality is slowly changing and company owners are becoming more sensitive to challenges women have to face at work. They also start noticing and appreciating women's unique values that can be brought to the company. There is as well a growing trend on the Internet to appreciate mothers as hard-working, well-organised and empathetic employees.
In Archdesk, we believe that diversity in construction is something that the industry can benefit from. Women are currently the underestimated force, making significant changes but still being unnoticed by the public eye. That is why we believe that we need to talk more about how women with different educational backgrounds, experiences and ideas can contribute to the development of the construction industry.
Are you considering a career in construction? Maybe, you are already a part of the industry, but you are looking for support in your daily work? Or perhaps, you are a company owner and you are keen to discover some initiatives for equality in your workplace? Here are some pages and accounts that do a great job in supporting women in construction:
A non-profit organisation supporting women in London, Birmingham, Essex and Cambridge. Their mission is to raise awareness about inequalities in the industry and provide guidance, training and jobs for women interested in being part of construction. The organisation offers various programs that you can check here.
A Facebook group that associates almost 23 000 women who work in the construction industry in the UAE. The main goal is to exchange knowledge, tips and support between group members.
The National Association of Women in Construction located in the United States. The goal of the organisation is to provide educational programmes on technical, management and leadership skills for women in construction.
If you liked that article and are looking for other pieces, check out our Empower by Example articles, where we present fantastic women of different cultures, ages and backgrounds that change the industry everyday.
Follow us to discover more about the Women in Construction! Keep a close eye on our Blog, more articles on this topic will follow during March.
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