Women in the construction industry: How to get ahead

MSc Project Management for Construction

26 Apr 2024


Learn about the challenges women working in construction face, and the key strategies women can implement to advance their career in this existing industry. 

Percentage of women in the construction industry

Although the construction sector is one of the largest in the UK economy, employing 3.1 million people, the gender divide in this sector is huge. According to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), women account for only 15% of the construction workforce in the UK.

Why are there fewer women than men in the construction industry? 

Women contemplating a career in, or those already within the minority of females employed in the construction industry, frequently encounter challenges that can impact their career advancement and job satisfaction.

Some of these challenges include: 

  • Underrepresentation: As women make up so few of the construction industry workforce, they are underrepresented, in both physical and leadership roles. This lack of representation doesn’t give women many role models to drive career ambitions and can make it difficult for women embarking on their career journey to find mentors and be able to network.

  • Gender stereotypes: As the construction industry is a traditionally male-dominated area, gender stereotypes still unfortunately exist in today’s modern world. These stereotypes create biases that affect women’s opportunities in the construction industry.

  • Work-life balance: Balancing additional responsibilities such as family, with the demands of a construction career can be challenging for all construction workers, but comes particularly into play for women. Construction workers often work long hours or even night shifts, which is a barrier to women with caregiving responsibilities.

  • Safety concerns: The physical nature of many construction roles can often be viewed a barrier for women, many of whom may not have the natural strength of a male counterpart. Additionally, personal protective equipment, such as fall-arrest harnesses, may not have been designed with a women’s body shape in mind, which poses a safety concern for women

Key strategies for women advancing in the construction industry 

Despite the challenges, the construction industry is becoming much more progressive and therefore inclusive for women as time goes on. If you are considering a career in the construction industry as a woman, there are some key strategies to bear in mind:

  • Networking and building a support system – As it stands, there are far fewer women in the construction industry than men, which makes it more important to build a support system of likeminded people where possible. Joining groups and communities for women in the industry is a great start. You should also consider attending conferences and events where you can network with other women in your situation, and forge relationships with female mentors who can guide you on your journey. 
  • Skill development and continuous learning – Whether it’s participating in leadership training programs, workshops and industry conferences to enhance your skills or making sure that you are updated on industry trends and advances in construction law, personal growth is key for career advancement.  
  • Leadership and career advancement – As with most sectors, it’s essential for women hoping to climb the corporate ladder in the construction industry to proactively seek out opportunities for professional growth. When negotiating pay and benefits, for instance, make sure to approach conversations with research into market standards and confidently communicate your value. Finally, consistently broadening your knowledge and expertise is key, as it shows employers your dedication to personal and professional growth. Developing robust leadership skills and gaining expertise such as an accredited MSc, will empower you to leave a lasting imprint on the trajectory of your career. 

How an MSc Project Management for Construction can help you progress in the industry

Our Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) accredited MSc Project Management for Construction is designed to develop the skills you need to succeed within a leading role in a construction project. A CIOB-accredited qualification provides global recognition of your capability and competence, reassuring future employers, clients and other professionals procuring built assets that you reflect the high educational standards set by the CIOB. 

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