Opening your mind to the construction industry

There are a large variety of roles available for women in the construction industry. We take a look at some of the jobs on offer.

Miller Homes working in the construction industry


One of the biggest misconceptions that surrounds the construction industry is that it’s a ‘men only’ career path. In 2018, the industry saw the number of female workers rising to 14 per cent of the total workforce. However; this increase is by no means the end of the process. Although there are still more women in sales and admin roles, last year saw more females than ever following careers in different areas of the sector such as planning, surveying and IT. The team at housebuilder Miller Homes outlines some of the roles in the industry.

Getting women on the ground

To encourage more women to follow a career in construction, education needs to start at an early age and in recent years initiatives like RICS Surveying the Future have been established at classroom level. By making women in the industry more visible, the idea is that it will encourage their younger counterparts to consider a career in housebuilding. Last year, figures from Randstad showed that 22 per cent of UK housebuilders and construction companies carried out regular career development sessions at schools in their local area, educating children about the opportunities available to them after studying STEM subjects.

Within the industry, figures show that only three per cent of women take up manual trades and when it comes to senior roles, females still seem to be vastly under-represented, with 49 per cent of workers stating that they have never worked with a female manager. However, there is willingness for change, as 93 per cent suggest that a female leader would make either no change to the working day or a positive one.

The roles of women

While it may be a slow change, women are increasingly finding themselves within different positions in the industry. Pinkspiration, a business that provides construction training, claims that women represent five per cent of the engineering profession and eight per cent in haulage. In housebuilding, the numbers seem to be higher, as 13 per cent work within surveying, 19 per cent make up planning directors and 17 per cent work in a technology-based role.

To find out more about women in the construction industry, three women – Helen Dawkins, Laura Zumbe and Emma Kirkwood – speak about what they do, what they’ve learned from their experiences in the industry and what advice they would offer to others hoping to follow in their footsteps.

Helen Dawkins – planning director

Helen says: “The greatest piece of advice I can offer is to think outside the subjects you took at school and start considering what skills you can apply to the industry.

“Construction has a huge variety of roles available, including manual jobs, such as bricklaying and plumbing, through to more technical and commercial positions, for example, land buying and procurement as well as customer-facing sales roles.

“The key to getting more young women interested in construction is to educate them when they’re in school and college about the wide variety of roles, opportunities and fantastic career prospects which are available within the industry.”

Laura Zumbe – project quantity surveyor

Laura says: “During my years working in construction, I’m pleased to say I have seen it slowly becoming more diverse. When I began my studies, there were only five women on my course, but recently I have seen and heard about more women entering the industry, which is a really positive change.

“The main thing women should understand is that the road to this career is never linear. There are so many transferable skills that can be applied to construction. If you are interested in getting involved, have a look at what training courses are available to get you started. Some can even be done entirely online.”

Emma Kirkwood – customer relationship management (CRM) developer

Emma says: “While at university, I never thought about working in construction. I studied web design and soon realised my options were varied in terms of what industry to work in, which is one of the most important things to remember.

“If you have a degree, you have a brilliant basis to work from because it shows employers your dedication, organisation and general work ethic.

“Experience is crucial too, and everyone does need to be willing to take opportunities when they arise so they can broaden their portfolio, whatever their gender.”

These roles are just three examples of the career paths women could consider in construction, but there are many more in the industry. These range from accounting to marketing, planning to land buying, customer care, law, production and more.

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