Women in Construction

Maher, Ryan (2016) Women in Construction. [Dissertation]

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Construction is one of the largest industries in the United Kingdom, in 2014 it contributed £103 billion in economic output, 6.5% of the total, and it employs approximately 2.1 million people. Unfortunately the gender gap between the numbers of males and females is one of the largest gaps in all of the employment sectors, (Rhodes, 2015). This paper will examine and identify why such a satisfying career is not recruiting more female entrants. Whilst it is important to promote and encourage the participation of women in careers that are considered non-traditional, it is important to understand and address the barriers which contribute to the lack of women studying and working in these areas. Through research and examination of studies carried out by the Government (United Kingdom) and leading institutions and guilds, such as RICS and CIOB; data and evidence has been collected which shows the extent of the issues faced by women wanting to work in this field. Statistical data highlights where the industry is lacking and experiencing the greatest divide between equality. Life stories and interviews from periodicals and literature provided by organisations, such as Learning Skills, form the main context of why many women are leaving careers in construction and opting for a secondary choice in another field of study. Qualitative research utilising interview techniques will aide in a comprehensive understanding of the challenges facing women. It is apparent that sexism and harassment, a pressure to fit in or make sacrifices, still form a barrier to many women in the pursuit of gender equality. The construction industry is becoming more accommodating towards female workers, through initiatives such as ‘The Women in Construction’ award and governmental incentives which create a better profile of the female workforce, but as this paper will show, there is still an underlying biased attitude prevalent throughout the industry. This paper highlights that these issues must be overcome if the UK is to sustain the current growth and meet the demand of an ever growing economy. In view of the current skills shortage it is important that the industry consider what Katherine Wiggins described as ‘the biggest untapped pool of qualified workers’, Smith (2015), the recruitment of more women to one of our largest industries, construction.

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