Text on left reads "Building a future that includes gender equality" with a woman in a hard hat and high vis on the right

A non-traditional occupation for women, is one in which only 25% or fewer employees are female. Taxi drivers, surgeons, construction workers, drivers – these professions are all highly male saturated. Nevertheless, spotting a woman on the job in one of the above occupations is still a rarity that often causes bewilderment to some.

Take the construction industry for example…

For a long time, it has been considered exclusively a male dominated sector. According to new research conducted by Randstad, out of 5,500 construction workers and 540 employers 93% of them admitted that having a female manager would be either neutral or have a positive impact on the industry.

Bear in mind, the constant growth of the sector, with more and more construction jobs becoming available. Therefore, it only seems natural that women who are after well-paid jobs positions, and stable terms of employment should consider working in construction.

Efforts to close the gender pay gap

For years, the male-dominated sectors remained the most tangible evidence for the gender segregation in employment, not only in the UK but also around the world. The glass ceiling came cracking only recently, with more initiatives put in place to close the gender inequality gap.

Sounds of victory were heard, with the significant hike reported in the number of female workers in STEM industries. Yet, although placing intelligent, organised and dedicated woman in these jobs seems a natural step forward, but the reward for their hard work can still be staggeringly disproportional to men’s earnings.

With construction sector being one of the most prominent industries affected by gender inequality, it seems fair to ask why women, if not being excluded, are definitely forgotten about if are not excluded then definitely forgotten when it comes to building the future of this country?

Construction industry playing catch up

Gender pay gap remains a current problem in the UK. According to the Office for National Statistics, in April 2017, women earned nearly 20% less than men. On the surface, however, the gap goes unnoticed. Women, on average are paid equally for the same job that men are doing, which for some is enough.

Earnings of female workers will shrink quite quickly if we compare salaries that are paid to the bottom and the top role in organisations. Only then we can see, that the glass ceiling is merely cracked, not broken.

In an attempt to tackle the inequality of the gender pay gap, the government has announced that all UK companies with 250 or more employees, have to report their gender pay gap. The data should be calculated as mean hourly pay, and if the numbers are alarming, employers will be responsible for creating a long-term plan to realign the pay balance within their enterprises.

The government’s initiative comes at the right time for the construction industry. At present 42% of companies surveyed by Randstad admitted to not actively monitoring their pay equality.

Yet the underrepresentation of female within construction organisations, and general slackness when it comes to monitoring the pay inequality are not the only untapped challenges. Job promotion is another unaddressed problem, with 75% of women unlikely to progress to the next tier in these organisations, which is the reason why so many of them, rather than facing the wall, choose to change career.

All in all, this leaves a pretty unhealthy picture of one of the most robust sectors of British economy that, as the Managing Director of Randstad Construction suspects, could backfire in the future if not enough efforts are put in place to change it – “Organisations that cannot retain, develop, and enhance their female workforce will be missing out on key skills, new ideas and new ways of working to help keep the industry driving forward”.

While construction managers are slowly recognising, the immense consequences that the skill gap might bring to a business, more and more companies will be looking for solutions to address these problems. First efforts to nurture and reward hard-working women have already been noticed across various sectors. The future looks brighter, but there is still a lot to be done for female workers to be valued, not only in this “male-dominated” industry but in all similar occupations.

Read Randstad’s full report here
www.randstad.co.uk/employers/areas-of-expertise/construction-and-property/women-in-construction/

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