CIOB Community, Opinion

Women have to work five times harder

Gemma Booth shares her views on gender equality in construction

I have now been in the construction industry 21 years and my experience is both positive and negative.

I enjoy all the graft that’s involved and construction is a great industry to be involved in, but in order for females to be in the male-dominated industry I still believe we have to work five times harder to get by and prove that we are capable.

That’s true whether on trade, site work or certain office roles – especially higher roles. I have been employed in all of these roles.

A lot needs to change in the industry to ensure we have a 50/50 split of women and men. Equality and inclusion need to be actually practised, not just written in a document, signed and ignored. Equal pay needs to be transparent: we don’t see what everyone earns within companies so it is hard to address. Business owners and boards should be reviewing this more.

“I enjoy the work and I like to work hard, but why do I have to work harder and prove to my employer that I am as capable as a male?”

Being a female in construction has its positive elements. I enjoy the work and I like to work hard, but why do I have to work harder and prove to my employer that I am as capable as a male?

The work isn’t the problem – it’s the people. Many are still operating as if in the era when construction was all men, but times are changing and if they don’t give more women a chance we will have no industry as we currently have a skills shortage. Women deserve the same opportunities and promotions as men and an end to stereotyping and assumption that we will not be capable of the same job roles as males.

Employers also ask if you have children or are planning on having any. [It is illegal under the Equality Act 2010 to ask a candidate whether they are married, have children or plan to have children in a job interview – editor].

Companies need to practise what they preach and do something about improving the industry to encourage more women into it – as we bring our own benefits to construction.

Gemma Booth is assistant site manager with Bellway Homes and member of Liverpool Hub Committee.

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