Construction has a reputation for being male-dominated but the gender balancing is shifting as more women choose IT as a career. In 2018, female workers accounted for 14 per cent of the total UK construction industry, so we spoke to the team at new homes housebuilder, Miller Homes, to learn more about the opportunities available in the industry.
From the ground up
According to a recent study, only 13 per cent of women aged 16-35 would consider a career in construction. In order to get more women interested in the industry, work needs to be done at an early age to highlight the career paths available. Recently, initiatives including RICS Surveying the Future, have been established in schools to increase awareness and understand what impact career information and advice has on young girls.
Over the last few years, homebuilders have been working with the Home Building Skills Partnership, an initiative led by the industry body the Home Builders Federation, to promote the wide range of career opportunities and highlight a diverse workforce.
The roles of women
While women appear to dominate sales and admin roles, other roles are proving less popular. Figures show that women make up only three per cent of manual trades, five per cent of engineering, eight per cent of haulage roles and 12 per cent in professional positions. Housebuilding appears to boast higher numbers, with women accounting for 13 per cent of chartered surveyors and 19 per cent of planning directors,whilst in IT only 17 per cent of those working in technology-based roles are female.
For senior positions, the figures remain low, as Randstad reveals that 49 per cent of workers claim they have never worked with a female manager. This is not to say that there is a prejudice against women in senior roles, as the same figures show that 93 per cent of tradespeople believe a female manager would make a positive change.
Miller Homes has always been proud to support all employees to realise their career ambitions in construction. Here, Helen Dawkins, Emma Kirkwood and Laura Zumbe discuss their experiences in the industry and what advice they’d offer to anyone considering this route.
Helen Dawkins – planning director
“Construction has a huge variety of roles available, from manual jobs such as the obvious brick laying and plumbing careers, to the more technical positions like land buying or procurement.
“Speaking to women at a young age is so important as it helps broaden their mindset out of the realm of the core subjects and helps break down traditional stereotypes of what they can and can’t do. Many people have a certain perception about construction and how it only involves manual labour, but with so many options available within the industry it can offer great prospects for everyone.
“There are also many great organisations supporting different careers within the industry, such as this one for like-minded planners like myself – Women in Planning– or Women in Construction which has a more general focus on construction.
“If you’re confident and people-centric, you may prefer a customer-facing role such as a development sales manager, while if you have a critical and creative eye, architecture may be the career for you.”
Emma Kirkwood – customer relationship management developer
“Having a degree offers you a brilliant basis to work in construction because it shows dedication, organisational skills and an all-round strong work ethic. Construction covers a broad range of roles, so don’t rule it out because you think it’s all high-vis and heavy lifting – there is most likely a career path that fits in perfectly with what you studied.
“For construction, experience is essential, so it is important that you remain open for opportunities – everything helps broaden your portfolio.”
Laura Zumbe – quantity surveyor
“For women in construction the road is never linear, there are so many transferrable skills that can be applied to the industry, so for some roles you don’t necessarily need a related degree. There are dozens of online courses and part-time education facilities that can help you learn the foundation of a role and you can build a career from there. If you’re interested there is no harm in giving it a try.
“Over the years I have watched the industry evolve, from my university days when there were only five women on my course, to being part of a diverse workforce at Miller Homes. This positive change is fantastic and it’s really exciting to see females continue to break down the barriers to make a career of their choice.”
These are just three of the roles women are currently making waves in, but there are dozens more in the industry including, accounting, marketing, land buying, customer care, law and more.
For more information on the opportunities available at Miller Homes, visit www.millerhomes.co.uk/corporate/careers/vacancies