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.