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Why did the 'Construction Manager of the Year' awards have no women?

The Construction Manager of the Year awards had 95 finalists and countless more nominations.

But no women were nominated, yet alone made the shortlist.

Though not entirely happy with the state of affairs, the CIOB’s response is that this is a question for industry – why is it organisations responsible are not putting forward more women for this prestigious accolade?

I disagree – I would suggest CIOB have more to gain by asking the question of themselves. Why weren’t women nominated? Was it how they asked?

Stand up and be counted

That’s not to deny that industry has a big part to play.  

“How can the CIOB advise others when its own house is on such shaky ground and it’s doing nothing to underpin the foundations?”

What I am saying is if we all blame one another and don’t take responsibility for our actions in trying to understand where we can make improvements, we are likely to get nowhere fast – like the last 10 years.

Here’s a number of reasons why the CIOB CMYA is likely to receive more nominations from men and, though it’s mostly subtle, I don’t believe it’s intentional:

  • The nomination process. A group of likeminded people are likely to create something that appeals to other likeminded people.
    We talk positively about the skills and traits women bring to the workforce, so we must acknowledge that we need to understand how to appreciate them.
    The women contributing to the process need to be women that have had the same experiences as those that should be nominated to understand the challenges they face and appreciate how extraordinary they are to have overcome them.
  • Due to paternalistic protection, women are less likely to be in charge of their own site – let alone a prestigious one – making them less likely to actually qualify for nomination.
  • No female winners are profiled on the site despite female winners in the past.
  • Women on the website are ‘supporters’ sending the message.
  • Winner descriptions seem superhuman – that can be intimidating to anybody, much more to individuals who don’t reflect the norm.

With only 3.4 per cent of CIOB membership, women are harder to find. But they do exist and want to be recognised, supported and championed alongside our male peers.

They don’t want tokenism, unfair advantage or special treatment, but they do want to succeed.

Unfair approaches

To allow them to do that, we need to look at how we are preventing it – not by giving them advantage, but considering where we are giving unfair advantage to others.

“This isn’t about giving an advantage to women; it’s about giving an advantage to the industry”

Keeping women out of awards makes it harder to embrace softer skills and value different methods of working.

The CIOB should take responsibility for its part in the make-up of the industry – how can it advise others when its own house is on such shaky ground and it’s doing nothing to underpin the foundations? 

This isn’t about giving an advantage to women; in a time of skills shortage and leadership crisis, it’s about giving an advantage to the industry.

Chrissi McCarthy is managing director Constructing Equity

Readers' comments (2)

  • I still find it quite amazing and rather sad, even with your reasons above that not a single female candidate somehow snuck through.

    Maybe the categories need a shake up.

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  • May be they had better things to do with their time than participate in all the sycophantic backslapping?

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