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Episode 5: Women in Construction - Who benefits? What's the point?

The number of women in professional engineering roles has doubled in the past 5 years and they now constitute around 12% of the workforce*. But that figure drops off dramatically for skilled labour in the construction sector, and women are still very much in the minority on site.

In this podcast, Adam Christopher hears about the significant challenges that three women in the construction industry have experienced – from lack of on-site toilets to the reactions of family and friends – and how they have needed to be resilient and confident to move forward in their careers. They are: Cate Anthony, Tunnel Engineer at Dr Sauer & Partners; Kate Cairns, Civil Engineer and road safety campaigner; and Katie Kelleher, Crawler Crane Operator at Tideway. We hear from actor Golda Rosheuvel who plays a site foreman in one of ATT’s workshop scenarios about how to keep strength of character in balance with good communication skills, rather than ignoring, fighting back with aggression or simply joining in with the ‘banter’ that can be present at work.

Ultimately these women are improving the working lives of others in the construction sector by challenging the status quo. It takes confidence and assertiveness to force issues onto the agenda, often hindered by an institutional culture where diversity of thought might be missing. Minorities are often left with the burden of creating change, speaking out about childcare, flexible working, parental leave, on-site welfare, mental health – the list goes on. These are issues which affect many workers, irrespective of gender, sexual orientation or religion.

This is about more than just getting women into construction. With the right inspiration, opportunities and representation, a wider range of people from all sectors of society will see construction as a great career option. Good outcomes here will have a wide ripple effect on society as a whole.

*source: WISE campaign

Guardian article: