On Thursday 8th March 2018, we celebrated International Women’s Day. Social Media was a hive of activity promoting positive messages for gender equality across the world.
Within our industry it is clear to see there is a higher ratio of male to female and it emphasises the need for days like International Women’s Day to raise our awareness. Only 14% of construction professionals are female and we make up 13% of the industry as a whole. But as a woman, relatively new to the industry, what does the lack of diversity really mean to people like me?
I took the time on Thursday evening to reflect on my career and how I’ve found being in the minority.
Firstly, I think it’s fantastic we are bringing the concerns of the industry to the forefront of people’s minds. It’s improving perceptions and increasing awareness of the changes we need to progress. We’re hopefully making the industry feel more accessible to people who would have previously not considered a career in the Built Environment.
From my experience in the industry, it has been nothing but positive. Maybe I am one of the lucky ones? Or maybe it’s because people have been aware of the discrimination for some time and my generation are the beginning of the change. I’d personally like to think the latter to be correct.
We recently had a Generation 4 Change (G4C) committee meeting where we discussed an issue brought to our attention on equality and discrimination. We pride ourselves on being a diverse committee with a 50:50 male female split. When this issue was raised with the committee we were shocked; we aren’t diverse out of a set selection procedure, but rather because we are conscious that diversity leads to greater innovation as ‘out of the box’ ideas are heard.
I feel very fortunate to have some inspiring and influential female and male role models in my career who are constantly pushing me to be the best I can be and I would like to think that the opportunities I have been given are based on my hard work and determination regardless of gender. I hope the changes I have been involved with in the industry are positive and will benefit anyone who can relate, not a specific group of individuals.
There is still a long way to go before we are a truly diverse industry which is wider than gender discrimination, but we can promote the positive changes already achieved to prove we are moving forward.
I hope that my perception doesn’t change, I hope that I will continue my career feeling equal to my peers and I hope I make others feel this way too. I hope my account isn’t an exception and that other young professionals in the Built Environment also feel valued as individuals rather than held back by a label.
G4C are debating how we can create a new image for construction to attract more diverse talent into the industry on 24 May at Bouncing back: a new narrative for construction https://www.eventbrite.com/e/bouncing-back-a-new-narrative-for-construction-tickets-43750783772
Eve Wilson, G4C Co-Chair North East