This International Women’s Day, I find myself thinking about what I can do to facilitate the changes needed to support gender equality within the construction industry. As the Chair of the BAM Gender Employee Resource Group (ERG), I am disappointed that there are so few women working on our projects and I am making it my mission drive this change. 


Over the last ten years we have made significant steps, stamping out discrimination and challenging bias. Now we must address the biggest hurdle, making the construction industry more attractive to women and this begins with breaking down stereotypes which unfortunately still exist. Our sites are a safe, professional and rewarding place to work, but the old misconceptions still hold us back. Construction sites offer a wide range of opportunities such as site managers, surveying, design management, plumbing and carpentry, every one of these is open to women but all of them continue to be male dominated. 

Change begins at the grassroots. BAM is reaching out to future employees at an early age, carrying out school visits, summer schools and work experience to enable girls to see what it’s like to work within construction. We are already seeing some encouraging signs, in 2020 26% of our early career hires (apprentices and graduates) were female. They are training to become the next generation of quantity surveyors, procurement and site managers etc. and will pave the way for others to follow them into the industry, but this simply isn’t enough. I hope to see females making up to 50% of our early careers hires in the near future.

BAM's staff are celebrating International Women's Day

It’s also about helping women who are already within the construction industry to realise the variety of jobs available and the benefits these offer. We actively work with local agencies such as Job Centre Plus to help jobseekers from all backgrounds find new roles on our sites. This year we have employed our first female traffic marshal and these role models will encourage other women to consider a career in construction.

However, it’s not just about attracting women to the industry, it’s also about retaining them over the long term. Initiatives such as the BAM and Timewise study into adopting flexible working in construction and the launch of our Flexible Working Policy will allow us to offer all our employees greater flexibility and create a better work life balance. This is huge step change for the industry, where the prevalent view had been that flexible working was not possible on site. It also means that we are now able to support both men and women to meet other responsibilities such as childcare and being a carer for relatives.  Something, which as a father myself, I am really pleased about!

I started this blog by stating that I see it as my mission to bring about change in the industry, but if we are to truly alter people’s perceptions and increase the number of women in construction we all have a role to play. I would like to encourage everyone to think about what they can do to support gender equality, because together we can make a big difference.

About the author

Matt Crookes

Project Manager

Matt studied Project Management at Brighton University graduating with a BSc Honours degree in 2002. After a brief spell with Alfred McAlpine he was accepted onto HBG’s (now BAM) graduate recruitment programme.

Nearly 20 years’ later Matt has delivered a variety of projects within the healthcare and education sectors and in 2018 was awarded a Gold medal at the Construction Manager of the Year Awards. Matt became a Fellow of the CIOB in 2019 and is dedicated to improving the image of the industry. 

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