Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to the newest version of your browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of Construction News, please enable cookies in your browser.

Welcome to the Construction News site. As we have relaunched, you will have to sign in once now and agree for us to use cookies, so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Women in the construction industry – can we do more?

While the last five years has seen some progress, there is still a paucity of women working in construction.

The image and public perception of the industry as male-dominated still plays a part and there is work to be done to ensure we’re attracting the best candidates from both genders. 

But let’s start on a positive note with news of progress that is helping recruitment which the industry can capitalise on.

Firstly, there are senior women in the industry setting a fantastic example and driving for change. Is there scope for them to be more visible and to make their voices more clearly heard?  

Secondly, the CCS is confident the work they’re doing to improve the image of the industry is having an effect with less sexism and more consideration.

More specifically, CCS monitors question site managers about their company’s equality and diversity policy during their site visits and scores come via evidence of active policy implementation.

These questions and wider discussions during site visits are raising awareness and changing the culture. But could the culture be changing faster and could those higher up the ladder beat the drum louder? 

Lastly, but by no means least, the 2025 Construction Working Group has the recruitment of women on the agenda and will be recommending ways to address the shortfall. It will be important that any recommendations are practical and can be acted upon.  

But what else can be done?

Grass roots schools careers advice for girls rarely includes construction as an option.

We need to explore routes into the system to encourage a positive and concerted effort by teachers and advisers to communicate the rich variety of opportunities in the industry and its changing culture.

It would be wonderful to see all levels and opportunities on the menu for serious consideration by both sexes as they embark on their journey into the world of work and for the industry to welcome more women. 

Robert Biggs is a Considerate Constructors Scheme Monitor and former scheme chairman

Readers' comments (2)

  • I have been in construction for over 26 years and had seen very little of the female gender within the industry for most of that time but I am very happy to say that things are changing.
    I am currently contracted to a conservation and restoration company in the South West, my Assistant PM is an experienced female whom is more than capable of managing this £5m restoration without me, my Architects are both female, my Engineers are both female and 3 of my Conservators are......... you guessed it......... female.
    We make a very effective team and it also makes for a very stable, comfortable, relaxed and anti macho environment, of course when new male tradesmen arrive on site their initial excitement is obvious as all they see is 7 or 8 good looking women in hard hats, unfortunately over the years this image has been used predominately in the media to sexulise women, I personally think that this has done massive damage to the construction industry and its efforts to attract females into this line of work, I also think that there is a reluctance due to the lack of facilities which still remains on some sites, I purposely have shared facilities on site which has the positive effect of the male workers keeping them clean so as not to look oafish in front of their female colleagues (the male psyche means they think they have a chance at romance!)
    All in all I am more assured of my female workers dedication and professionalism than I am of some of my longer term male colleagues.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Chrissi McCarthy

    Is progress really being made? The number of women in the sector has fallen from 13% to 11/12% dependent which statistical source your use. Architects have seen a drop from 25% part to accredited to 19%. Again the focus is looking at recruitment but we must realise that it is retention and development that must be considered. We need a holistic approach not a short term focus on recruitment, because if we encourage women in we also need them to stay. I know CCS has been supportive of the CITB Be Fair framework which helps companies achieve an environment that the most talented people would want to work in, with industry funding its a good place to start.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.