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Key Stats About the Role of Women in Construction

Data from the Office for National Statistics and industry surveys show that the number of women in construction has not increased significantly despite attempts to increase female representation.

Women in construction

At the end of 2016, approximately 27 million people were working in the UK. The divide between men and women was nearly 50-50. However, 2.3 million had jobs in the construction industry and only 296,000 were women. In this case, the split is 87-13. It’s an alarming wake-up call.

The ONS data shows that the percentage of women in construction is scarcely higher than it was before the recession, despite the industry’s active efforts to attract new recruits and access wider talent pools.

Additional surveys from trade bodies and contractors review that the gender pay gap is growing and women aren’t really aware of the different opportunities that the construction industry can offer.

In the fourth quarter of 2016, women represented only 12.8% of the construction workforce. While there has been some post-recession improvement, the proportion of women in construction has grown only slightly: in the fourth quarter of 2007, they represented 12.1% of the workforce.

Structural Defects Insurance

The construction industry needs to attract more women

Housebuilder Keepmoat commissioned a survey that revealed equally troubling insights: it showed that only 13% of women aged 16-35 would consider a construction career. Many say that the figure is not surprising given the ‘male builder’ stereotypes that still exist, and that the construction industry needs to do more to attract women.

Research from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors points to a growing pay gap in the surveying profession, with men earning an average of £11,000 more than women in a comparable role.

Pay gap

The RICS data shows that women begin a career in surveying on the same level as men: male surveyors aged 18 to 22 earn £22,937, while women made £23,150. As the surveyors grow older, the pay gap grows men aged 36-45 make an average of £10,000 a year more than their female peers while men in the 46-55 age group command a salary that is £13,000 higher than what women receive.

Lucile Kamar, equalities manager at RICS, said that this disparity suggests that fewer women remain with the industry due to more men being in leadership positions and opportunities for women to progress being more limited. She recommended the championing of championing female role models, especially, in management roles, to ensure that women can be seen as leaders in the construction industry.

Other surveys suggest that the opportunities for women need to be more evident. The Keepmoat survey showed that 56% of respondents were surprised to learn that a lot of women were employed at executive, manager and director level in construction. On hearing of these opportunities, 72% said that the industry needed to do more to highlight them. After completing the survey, 45% of young women said they were more interested in a construction career compared to only 13% before.

The key message is that more needs to be done to retain the best and brightest women in the construction industry. More firms are understanding that diversity brings a host of benefits, so there are signs that things are starting to change.

Specialists in Construction Insurance


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