Construction has always been a male-dominated industry. But now, more than ever, we need to make the industry more inviting to women.
With labour shortages across the building sector, it is in the interest of all its members to embrace change. Firms and contractors must be willing to attract and keep women in rewarding jobs that offer security and promotion. Traditional and often stereotypical attitudes on building sites must become a thing of the past.
In Ireland today, women make up just 9% of the building workforce despite record numbers of female graduates pursuing careers in construction. A reshaping of the working culture is required to correct this gender imbalance.
As an industry there are a number of actions we can take.
Modern Ireland is a pioneer of acceptance and our building sites should be no different. By shedding light on discriminatory behaviour and language used in the workplace, adopting policies of zero-tolerance and imposing adequate disciplinary measures, building sites will become a safer and more attractive working environment to all.
On-site amenities for women need to meet workplace standards. How can we expect women to feel safe and thrive at work if their most basic needs aren’t being met? Safe changing rooms, women’s toilets and sanitary bins are bare minimum facilities in any workplace, building sites included. Investment in this area will go a long way in flipping current stereotypes.
Nowadays flexibility is an expectation of every job seeker. Remote work and its benefits don’t apply to most construction workers. Alternative incentives should be made available to men and women who need to balance family commitments.
With the industry in constant flux, it’s time to embrace change and champion a new era of construction. As the professional landscape shifts the future success of the industry may be dependent on it. Championing a better workplace for women means a better workplace for all.