On March 8th female achievement throughout history will provide the main focus of International Women’s Day.
The annual commemoration is also designed to champion women of all backgrounds ‘who dare to innovate, lead, and uplift others towards a more equal and inclusive workplace’.
UK legislation has long forbidden employees to discriminate on grounds of race, disability and gender, and the playing field is certainly more level nowadays for previously marginalised sectors of society in terms of job opportunities and career progression. However, that positive picture carries a hint of shade with statistics that show construction remains something of a closed shop for women who account for just 10% of the industry’s workforce.
The perception remains that building is men’s work, which inevitably deters members of the opposite sex from joining the Construction sector and disproving that outmoded notion.
The relatively few women who have broken through the industry’s gender-based glass ceiling and taken-up frontline construction roles ranging from project manager and civil engineer, to crane operator, electrician, and health and safety advisor, have shown themselves to be as adept as their male counterparts.
Promoting construction as an attractive career option for women is key to increasing their number on sites and offices countrywide. Organisations such as Women in Roofing, and Women into Construction are certainly doing their bit to redress the gender imbalance, but could the industry itself be doing more? The UK building industry is in the midst of a skills shortage, therefore now would be a very good time for it to tap into an underused reservoir of talent.
Sika has long recognised that women have a vital role to play in maintaining a strong, vibrant construction sector. Sika-Trocal, for instance, employs two women in roles in its otherwise 7-man UK based heavy team. Donna Owen and Louise Long bring a wealth of experience and expertise to their respective roles as Area Technical Manager, and Marketing Communications Executive.
"Louise said: “Working for a progressive company such as Sika has allowed myself and Donna to flourish in our roles. We’ve never felt that gender might play a part in us not fulfilling our career potential. Unfortunately, our positive experience might not be indicative for women in the industry as a whole, which is why International Women’s Day is such a great initiative. It’s a reminder of what women have achieved and are capable of achieving in all walks of life."
If the building industry is to achieve a level of equality seen in other sectors, it must dismantle the long-held myth that women should remain out-of-site.