Why more women are needed in building
Dr Graham Paterson, executive director of City Building, reflects on the need for more women in craft roles, and why diversity is essential to productivity and survival.
Throughout my 38-year career in construction, there’s been discussion about the need to attract more women into the sector. Yet, despite concerted efforts to tackle male dominance within the industry, only 2% of craft trade roles in the UK are occupied by women.
Stereotypes about what a construction worker should look like and lack of confidence in women’s ability to succeed all contribute to gender disparity. However, the industry should not accept this as inevitable.
Successful businesses require input from different people. They need variety in opinion and diversity in approaches to ensure optimal productivity. An inclusive workforce is also crucial to any organisation’s succession plan as it widens the potential talent pool. Faced with an ageing workforce, attracting new faces into the construction sector has never been so important.
For these reasons and more, encouraging diversity has always been a priority for City Building and we are proud to be one of the most inclusive construction firms in the UK. Analysis by GenAnalytics found that City Building employs 16 times more females in craft roles than the industry average. Off site, 50% of our management team is female and our mean gender pay gap is 3.6% compared with a Scottish average of 16%.
While City Building may be ahead of the curve, there is still work to be done and we want to tackle perceptions that construction is a “man’s world”. Positioning it as an attractive career choice to young women is one of the most effective ways to open up the sector.
We recently recruited a female painting and decorating apprentice who was inspired to apply after hearing about the achievements of Lisa Murphy – a rising star within City Building who has twice been awarded the prestigious Johnstone Young Painter of the Year award.
Through visits to schools by training instructors, apprentice alumni and the provision of short-term work placements, City Building – the largest employer of apprentices in Scotland – is playing an important role in communicating the options available to young women. We will explore different ways to better communicate with under-represented groups and encourage more females to work in the industry.