8th March marks International Women’s Day — a day which celebrates the vital contribution of women in all sections of society and calls for true equality for all. This year’s theme is #BreakTheBias, which is a concept very familiar in the construction and manufacturing industries. For many years individuals, businesses and organisations in our sector have been working to address the perception of construction as a ‘man’s world’ and trying to ensure that there is space at the table for everyone. And there is evidence this is working. According to Randstad’s 2019 survey on Women in Construction 23% of women have been in their current job for longer than two years— up from 19% in 2018— and in 2019 only 36% of females said that they never had a female manager as compared to 53% the year before. However, progress is slow. Women still only make up around 15% of the construction industry, with Randstad’s report showing that 72% of women in construction experienced gender discrimination in the workplace in some shape or form.
To understand the challenges still faced by women looking to work in construction, we spoke to our Senior HR Business Partner, Gaynor Morgan. Gaynor is a qualified Executive Coach and Mentor whose career in HR has seen her work across many companies and sectors in the UK— giving her a broad perspective on this issue.
Q: What stereotypes do you see still existing within the industry and how can they be challenged?
“In many traditional sectors including construction, manufacturing, and production etc. stereotypical behaviours have existed as many organisations have been led by male leaders with a closed mindset. During my career stereotyping has been present, where female leaders have felt they have to behave like their male counterparts to be respected. However, I have learnt that by being confident in my abilities and through my Executive Coaching, I was able to steer others differently. As a female senior leader, there are many HR professionals working alongside the C-Suite to add to the diversity of organisations to steer their agenda based on capability rather than gender.”
Q: There is still a discrepancy in the percentage of men vs women choosing careers in construction and manufacturing – what are some of the benefits/opportunities of working in the industry that you would highlight to other women?
“Take courage in your abilities and deliver the passion to succeed through leading others regardless of their gender. This way you are seen as a leader who respects people’s talent, not their gender. Acknowledge the strength of the individual to add value to your industry. Industries are changing and we have a fantastic opportunity to become part of the future.”
Q: What’s the best thing about your job at Siderise?
“Being accepted as a female leader from the outset. From the onboarding process, through to my few weeks within the company I add value as part of the senior leadership team for the company.”
To learn more about the experiences and career paths of our female managers here in Siderise, you can read our previous International Women’s Day interviews here.