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Celebrating Women in Construction Week: 3 ways we can make the industry more inclusive for women

By Beth Adams

Women in Construction Week celebrates the achievements of women from all walks of life while highlighting the unique difficulties of being a woman in a male-dominated industry. By drawing attention to this issue, the campaign strives to encourage the next generation of women to enter construction, when barriers such as lack of equality remain industry challenges. With International Women’s Day falling within Women in Construction Week this year, the call to tackle discrimination in the industry has never been louder.

Construction has typically been seen as a male-dominated field. However, over the years women have been making strides towards more equity in the field and now, the proportion of women in the construction workforce is the highest it’s ever been. Despite this, structural barriers still exist which prevent women from entering the industry, and discrimination within the industry can reduce the retention of female talent.

Source: Office for National Statistics

Further to this, women of colour, women with disabilities, LGBTQI+ women, and other marginalised groups within the construction industry, can often face compounded barriers due to intersecting forms of bias and discrimination. Indeed, with little research focusing on the experiences of these women, we must draw attention to the fact that there is a diversity of experiences amongst women in construction.

So, what can we do to make the construction industry more accessible for women?

One study asked women of colour in the industry which measures they felt would most effectively attract and retain talent from minority groups. The three measures ranked most highly by respondents were:

·        Reports on incidents of sexism and racism being dealt with more effectively

·        More school workshops and initiatives targeting girls of colour

·        Line managers undertaking anti-racism and unconscious bias training

Source: Business in the Community

In addition, there are things we can all do to make the workplace a more inclusive environment. Inclusive Employers highlight ways in which we can all look to be more inclusive at work:

1) Speak up about inclusion – share your own differences and treat everyone with respect

2) Challenge stereotypes – whether its biases or lack of information, call into question stereotypes

3) Leadership – empower and uplift your colleagues, be authentic and lead by example

By addressing these barriers, we can promote inclusivity in our everyday lives at work in order to create a more equitable and supportive environment for all women in construction.

As we celebrate Women in Construction Week, let’s recognise the intersecting identities of women in construction and strive to create a more welcoming and supportive industry for all.

References & Further Resources:

[1] Crenshaw, K. (1991) Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence against Women of Colour, Stanford Law Review, 43(6). 


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