Women in construction face a glass ceiling – are things improving?


As International Women’s Day is marked across the world on 8 March, the construction industry continues to reflect the gender gap that remains between men in leadership roles compared with women.

Currently women make up around 11-15% of roles in construction and ONS data reveals that the numbers are not increasing – although market predictions that the numbers could improve to closer to 25% by 2020 are encouraging.

‘Inspire Me’ new construction initiative to put a spotlight on gender quality

Research undertaken by Randstad, the global recruitment agency with a dedicated construction arm, conducted a survey of over 500 building companies including 5,500 employeesIts findings indicated that women’s job prospects are held back as they face discrimination, inequality and sexism in the workplace. Earlier this year, Construction News decided to launch new initiative ‘Inspire Me’ in an effort to raise awareness of the challenges women face in the construction business and aim to attract more women to succeed in senior managerial and leadership roles.

The oversubscribed ‘Inspire Me’ event threw up some pithy opinion, with the overriding conclusion that in general men were not intentionally discriminating against women, but showed a lack of awareness about gender inequality or how to go about rectifying the gap.

Rick Willmott, CEO of construction and property services firm Willmott Dixon, said: “We need to get serious about tackling a situation where there are fractionally more than 10 per cent of women working in construction. Higher up the senior ladder the figures are even worse with women making up only 5% of executive board members across the leading 30 contractors nationwide.

“This isn’t about whether gender diversity makes sense. It’s about showing those in charge why it makes good business sense.”

“Gradually, our industry is recognising the value of having a diverse team. We are welcoming more women being appointed to senior roles and becoming excellent role models to inspire current and future generations.”

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Women in construction face a glass ceiling – are things improving?


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