Breaking down the barriers for women in construction
WITH just over 15 per cent of the Scottish construction workforce being female, there’s no question that our industry still has a long way to go in encouraging more women into the sector.
Contrary to popular belief, working in construction isn’t all bricklaying and roofing, and you don’t need a hard hat to thrive in the industry. However, this stereotype is still very much alive and one way to change it is to improve communication and understanding of the many opportunities that exist for women.
My own route into construction began at an estate agency. Through this, my interest in housing grew stronger and I learnt how to create a firm foothold within local markets, which led to my current role as sales and marketing manager at developer AS Homes (Scotland).
My responsibilities include planning, customer care, marketing, and training our newer recruits to support homebuyers to the fullest. My role also involves analysing the viability of projects through research of buying trends and demographics, to ensure that the high quality homes we build will appeal to our market audience.
This is just one example of a female-led role in our industry, but there are so many more options out there which are open to young women with a hunger for the sector. From nitty-gritty roles such as landscaping and roads planning, to aesthetically driven roles such as architecture and interior design, the career opportunities are endless.
We were recently contacted by a headteacher from a Glasgow school to talk about opportunities in the construction sector for female pupils. It was refreshing to hear they want to support young women in progressing their roles in the industry. Unfortunately, this positive attitude is something that we don’t see enough and I would encourage all schools offering career advice to take this approach.
Young people deserve to have advice which doesn’t limit their options, but shows them the breadth of opportunities available across all sectors. Careers such as medicine, hairdressing and business are regularly spoken about. But what about pupils who are more suited to the likes of engineering or surveying? In Scotland, there are currently 12 universities that offer degrees in civil engineering, so why don’t we see more women entering the sector from this route?
At AS Homes, we offer a number of different paths into construction, from apprenticeship schemes to access courses, giving our next generation of workers the chance to earn and learn at the same time.
With the incredible amount of female talent out there, as construction professionals, we must ask ourselves why the built environment isn’t their first choice and what needs to be done to change this. For me personally, the answer is education. We must break down the communication barriers to showcase the vast array of construction careers that are available to women. In the near future, I hope to see more schools coming on board so that we can collaboratively shift the trends and attitudes across our sector and encourage more women in construction.
Ainslie McCrone is Sales & Marketing Manager at AS Homes (Scotland) Ltd and Briar Homes Ltd