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Why women are shying away from a career in a progressive field

With women only accounting for 11% of the construction industry, a ground-breaking new survey has exposed how legacy perceptions are still influential in deterring women from entering a field that is bustling with progressive career opportunities.

In an effort to understand why the industry is still saturated with men and recognise what is holding women back; housing and community regeneration specialist, Keepmoat Regeneration, commissioned research which spoke directly to 16-25 year olds, who are facing the pivotal years of career selection.

Of those interviewed, just 13% of females said they would consider a career in the construction industry, compared to 21% of men.  A massive 46% of females listed the limitations for women to progress as the key driver behind that decision; while 47% noted the high proportion of men in the business makes it intimidating.

One of the more surprising findings, was that nearly a third (29%) of women, think that roles are limited to on-site work; while a further 30% viewed the field as ‘strenuous’.  

Dave Sheridan, Chief Executive of Keepmoat Regeneration, said: “It’s concerning that in 2017, nearly a third of women still view a career in construction as hard hats, digging or bricklaying.  Yes that’s a major part of the production – and one which we still encourage women to consider – but there are endless opportunities in design, land and planning, surveying, sales, business development or marketing; the list goes on.

“The housing crisis is at the fore of the Government agenda and this ultimately means there has never been a better time to consider a career in construction.  In order to meet the recommendations, we need to work hard to eradicate the looming skills crisis our industry is facing; and that means taking the time to identify what is holding people back – particularly females.”

The research participants were also offered exclusive insights into the field and the majority of females interviewed (56%) were surprised to learn that the industry employs a significant number of women at executive, manager and director levels. 

After hearing of the opportunities available, 72% of those who were questioned were in agreement that the industry needs to be doing more with schools and forming partnerships to highlight the benefits of entering the field. 

Dave added: “This research campaign has offered the perfect platform for us to start looking at our own offer and make serious considerations about how we can maximise the appeal for women; so they can take advantage of the great career prospects we have.

“We as an industry need to come together to change these dated perceptions and ensure we have a thriving and diverse workforce that can deliver the new homes and infrastructure our country so desperately needs.”