Last edited 15 Oct 2018

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Women in Construction – the critical solution to a skills shortage

The drive to encourage and retain women in construction is a critical solution to the skills shortage and a topic of enormous importance to the industry at large.

One only has to consider the 300,000 new homes that are to be built each year, and the need for more than a million extra workers by 2020, to realise the enormity of the challenges ahead. Figures suggest that women are expected to make up more than a quarter of that workforce by 2020, but more can and should be done.

Looking back to 1988, less than 7% of the full-time construction industry workforce in Britain were women. By 1995, the Equal Opportunities Commission stated in its annual publication that women continue to be significantly underrepresented particularly in the construction sector.

The situation is improving with wages rising, albeit slowly, and the proportion of women in senior roles has almost trebled since 2005, providing some hope that the misconceptions around construction being a gender-specific industry are at last being removed. But, a survey by Randstad in 2018 discovered that out of 1,200 people that have experienced gender discrimination (33%), 60% were women, and more than eight in ten women feel left out and excluded from male-oriented conversations and social events. Not only are these figures disturbing, but the survey revealed 43% of organisations do not actively monitor pay equality.

Encouragingly, there are parts of the industry that have recognised the urgent need to address these inequalities, and London Build 2018 is part of that drive. They have been hosting the Women in Construction Networking Event for two years now, and through growing support from industry, are able to offer inspiring leaders the platform to encourage and inspire the younger generation and more women to challenge the barriers to entry and aspire to a more diverse workforce.

At last year’s event, they worked with NAWIC, Built by Both, Women in Property, the Federation of Master Builders and many more key industry figures, registering 1,150 female visitors to the session. They aim to make this year’s event even bigger and remain the UK's largest gathering of women working in construction.

This year, they have partnered with NAWIC, and are delighted that Women in BIM (WiB) and many other industry leading bodies have come on board to bring this free-to-attend event for all, offering the chance to network and feel inspired by a panel of established female experts discussing the untapped opportunities for women.

However, they are taking their commitment to shine a light on our women in construction one step further this year by creating a Women in Construction Ambassador community.

There is an impressive list of Women in Construction Ambassadors that have agreed to help drive equality and diversity in the built environment, and they would like more to join.

Some of those already a part of the community include’; Cristina Riley, Senior Planner Kier Group & Vice Chair Kier LGBT & Allies Network Kathryn Lennon Johnson, Founder, Built Environment Skills in Schools; Anne Timpany, CEO, On Tap Plumbers; Kirsten Galea, Senior Associate Architect, West Williamson and Partners; Nicola Coppen, Utilities Project Manager and Chair – Kent & Medway Construction Guild, Ebbsfleet Garden City; Fiona Barry, Divisional Marketing Manager Kingspan Insulated Panels, Kingspan Ltd; Marta de Sousa, Property Expert, LUX Reality; Fiona Alfred, Director, Women in Property; Anna Vincent-Gill MRICS, Consultant, Naismiths; Angela Steele, Owner, Opportunities With Experience CIC (O-W-E); Ruth Whitehouse, Recruitment Consultant Residential Team, PSR Solutions; Christine Townley, Skills and diversity champion; Marie Grieve, Director, Costello Palmer Communications; Sarah Davis, Founder and CEO, Skills4Stem Ltd.

Christine Townley said; “I chose to become an Ambassador because the built environment is still very much dominated by men, and while there are great campaigns and activity seeking to address this there is still much to be done. Working with like-minded women creates a larger mass that hopefully can show young women why construction is a good place to work and remind us all that there are many talented women from a broad range of backgrounds working in the sector.”

Kirsten Galea said; “I signed up for being a Women in Construction Ambassador for London Build because I'm always interested in helping to showcase the valuable role women have in this industry, as we currently lack representation. As Co-founder of 'Women at Weston Williamson' (@womenATww) and board member of ‘Women in Transport' (@transportwm) I'm always trying to get organisations to work together. I think we can achieve more if we join forces. Therefore I think it just makes sense to join this like-minded community of women in construction at London Build.

By joining, you’ll attend the morning tea networking event and meet with the selected group of Ambassadors, allowing you to not only strengthen and build your existing network of contacts but to become part of a more significant community of like-minded business leaders.

The Women in Construction Morning Tea is taking place on 24th October at 10:00am-12:00pm in the Built Environment Networking Hub. Register for your free tickets now: https://www.londonbuildexpo.com/whatson/networking-events/women-in-construction

If you’re interested in driving equality and diversity in the built environment as a Women in Construction Ambassador, get in touch with the team at [email protected]

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--London Build 10:02, 15 Oct 2018 (BST)