While progress is undoubtedly being made to address the issue of inequality between the genders, some industries are falling behind in terms of making strides in the right direction. In the UK, women do not have senior roles in 20% of construction companies. This statistic has led some professionals in the industry to believe that the construction sector still suffers from a marked inequality between its male and female employees.
This divide is even more noticeable at higher levels within a firm - Construction News found that half of construction companies said they had never had a manager who was a woman in the business. Furthermore, of the women currently working in the sector, 48% claimed they had dealt with discrimination because of their gender at work, with 28% of those issues being caused by inappropriate actions or comments from male co-workers. Clearly, the industry needs to look at the matter more closely in order to make progress towards resolution.
The issue is being felt at all levels of the construction world. Nearly half of construction companies (42%) do not monitor equal pay between gender in the business and 68% were not aware of any initiatives to support women transitioning into senior roles. Furthermore, according to Randstad, 79% of men believe they earn the same as their female colleagues in the same position. However, 41% of women disagree — highlighting the need for better pay transparency within the industry to dispel perceptions that men are earning more.
In order to explore the matter further, supplier NiftyLift has created this article to highlight where the construction industry needs to look in order to create equality in its workforce.
Within the on-site construction workforce, data shows that men account for 99% of those roles. Another figure that highlights the lack of gender diversity within the industry. Despite the figures, 93% of construction workers believe having a female boss would not affect their jobs, or would in fact have a positive effect by improving the working environment.
Randstad noted that women are only forecast to make up little over 25% of the construction workforce in Britain by 2020. If the industry intends on closing the skills gap, women could potentially hold the key. With the industry raising concerns that it is experiencing a shortage of skilled workers, 82% of people working in construction agree that there is a serious skills shortage. If demand is expected to require an additional million extra workers by 2020, women could account for a significant portion of that — especially in senior roles, which have previously been bias towards their male colleagues.
Senior roles are proving to be a particular problem when it comes to a male-female balance in the world of construction, but there have been some positive movements in the last few years. Back in 2005, there were just 6% of women in senior roles within the UK’s construction industry. However, fast forward to 2015, and this number had risen to 16% and is expected to continue to rise as we approach 2020.
Promotion opportunities for females in the sector has also improved. Back in 2005, an unfortunate 79% of women in the industry were dissatisfied with the progression of their careers. However, fast forward again to 2015, and this number more than halved to just 29%, with some of this progression likely to be attributed to the fact that almost half of women in the industry (49%) believe their employer to be very supportive of women in construction.
These figure all display a step in the right direction, but there’s a lot more that needs to be done in order to resolve the matter entirely. Ranstad also reports that there remains a tendency within the industry to exclude women from male conversations or social events, with 46% of females experiencing being sidelined. A further 28% said they had been offered a less important role and 25% reported being passed over for promotion.
Perhaps it comes as a surprise then, to learn that 76% of construction workers who are female have said they would recommend a construction career to the women in their life. Then again, with a 60% increase in the average annual salary for women in the industry in the past decade from £24,500 in 2005 to £39,200 in 2015, there is no denying that progress is being made to combat gender inequality. But we still have a long way to go. Hopefully, by 2020, we can report further progress in the industry, making roles more attractive to females, and improving the gender diversity which could consequently prove to be a solution to the lack of skilled workers for the industry right now.