• Why we need more women in construction

    Construction is one of the most heavily male-dominated industries in Europe. Statistics from Eurostat indicate that only around 10 per cent of employees in this sector are women, which is on a par with the defence forces and the mining industry.

    Why should this be so, and is there anything to indicate that more women are finding work in the sector?

    The numbers speak for themselves

    In many countries, women account for less than 10–20 per cent of the total workforce in the construction sector. This applies in particular to what have historically been the more physically demanding professions in the industry: craftsmen and site workers, for example. The proportion of women in other areas of the construction sector – such as architecture, engineering and project management – is sometimes higher, but here, too, the gender distribution remains imbalanced.

    Why is it important to bring more women into construction?

    Gender equality is one of the fundamental principles in the European Pillar of Social Rights and has to do with women and men being treated equally and enjoying equal opportunities in all areas: participation in the labour market, terms and conditions of employment, and career development. The benefits of better gender-balanced workplaces are clear:

    • Democracy: Promoting gender equality and inclusion are the cornerstones of a fair and equal society.
    • Diversity and innovation: Research indicates that diversity in the workforce, including between women and men, produces greater innovation and creativity.
    • Improved working environment: Research also demonstrates that an increase in women at the workplace can lead to improved communication, conflict management and teamwork.
    • Broader skills base: Attracting more women to the construction industry will allow us to benefit from their unique talents, skills and experience.
    • Financial growth and productivity: Utilising the potential of the entire workforce and accommodating the needs of different customer segments can help the sector become more competitive and sustainable.

    How can we attract more women to the sector?

    It is important to start early, to begin attracting girls to construction-related activities and courses of education at a young age. This may involve school programmes, workshops and events that showcase the various opportunities that exist within the industry. Another option, which is already in use, is to highlight female role models in the world of construction. Above all, however, it has to do with challenging gender stereotypes, making the case that employment in construction is not limited to physical work, in that it also encompasses design, engineering, project management and other professional roles.

    Examples of organisations and projects that promote women in construction

    Many initiatives have already been launched to promote gender equality and inclusion in the construction sector. These include:

    • “Women in BIM” is an organisation whose purpose is to support women working in BIM and to increase the proportion of women in the industry. The organisation provides networking opportunities, mentoring and training.
    • The London Crossrail project has a gender equality and inclusion policy that requires all contractors and subcontractors to promote gender equality and diversity in the workplace.
    • Bechtel, a global engineering and construction company, runs a programme entitled “Women@Bechtel”, which aims to promote gender equality and inclusion within the company.
    • Through its Introduce a Girl to Engineering day event, the Swedish organisation “Womengineer” enables thousands of girls to visit engineering companies to explore their interest in this area. Their ultimate aim is for as many women as men to graduate as engineers in 2030.
    • The European Women In Construction & Engineering Awards is an annual event that recognises women who have made helped promote gender equality in the engineering and construction sectors.

    Awareness is thus rising about the need to improve gender equality and inclusion in the construction industry, and many initiatives have been launched to attract women to the sector and encourage them to build a career there. Nevertheless, there is still a great deal of work to be done. More women in construction can help establish a more inclusive working environment, promote innovation and creativity, improve work processes and contribute to financial growth. With more women in the sector, we can create a stronger, more successful construction industry.



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