The construction industry remains a prominent employer in Ireland and the UK and one of the largest contributors to the economy of both. Yet women, accounting for more than half the population in both countries*, are chronically under-represented within the industry as it is one of the poorest employers of women. As of Q4 2019 women accounted for 12.5%** of the UK construction workforce and only 8.49% of the Irish equivalent***.
While numbers are improving in recent years, progress is very slow and there is a clear need to do more to address the significant imbalance.
Every organisation needs to play its part in encouraging women to pursue careers in construction, not only to remedy the chronic skills gap but also to serve our common duty to society and affect real change.
To quote a female employee in the industry, ‘there is still work to be done to remove the stigma that only men can be good in construction or engineering.’
So what are Brogan doing to address this imbalance?
International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. This year in 2021 the focus is on #ChooseToChallenge. Why? Because we can all choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality. We can all choose to seek out and celebrate women's achievements.
Year-round support from Brogan Group
Of course, a one-day event is not enough to support Women in construction and even the gender balance. However, Brogan Group will take inspiration from this day to re-focus our efforts to provide meaningful and ongoing support and encouragement to women in the construction industry.
One of the ways we intend to do this is through our new membership with Women into Construction, an independent not-for-profit organisation that promotes gender equality in construction. Women into Construction provide bespoke support to women wishing to work in the construction industry and assist contractors to recruit highly motivated, trained women, helping to reduce skills gaps and create a more gender-equal workforce.
Find out more here
Brogan Group have made a recent contribution to Equality Now in support of their vital work and their current campaign to #BuildBackEqual. This is a much-need initiative to raise awareness of the disproportionate effects of the pandemic on women and girls and to call for fundamental protections, rights, and freedoms to be written into law, implemented and upheld.
Equality Now is staffed with expert lawyers and campaigners who work across the world to build a just world for women and girls.
Find out more here
Sources: *gender ratio of population Knoema.com **Percentage statistic of women in construction in the UK gmb.org.uk ***Statistic on women in construction in Ireland irishbuildingmagazine.ie
Brogan Group spoke to their female employees on their experience and within the construction industry. Here are their stories.
Vicky - Contracts Coordinator, Brogan Group
‘I’m very glad to see more women joining the construction industry as specialists in the field. There is still work to be done to remove the stigma that ‘only men can be good in construction, engineering etc.’ However, I do believe we are moving in the right direction.
I came to construction industry 2 years ago as a Contracts Coordinator. The role meant I was visiting sites and liaising with site teams from day one. It felt challenging in the beginning – walking into a subcontractor office space with solely men there. However, I soon learned that as long as you are confident in yourself and understand your job role you will be taken seriously, and you are always treated with respect.’
Kerri – Director, Ireland, Brogan Group
‘There is a definite under-representation of women in the Construction Industry and while we are seeing the numbers improve in recent years, I often find myself to be the only female in the room, particularly at senior management level. I feel the perceived image of the industry as a very challenging environment for women is partly the cause. However, this image is somewhat out-dated now as attitudes are changing with the times and with the younger generation coming up through the ranks.
We could definitely do more as an industry to encourage women to pursue careers in construction. There is an obvious shortage of candidates in the field and yet a large reservoir of potential remains relatively untapped.
Our female employees are a great example of the value women have to offer to the sector, exemplified by their progression in their chosen fields within the Company. In turn, I feel Brogan Group’s support of equality is evidenced in the retention of these valued employees.’
Chelsea - Hoist & Mast Climber Administrator, Brogan Group
'I started with the company 6 years ago as a business development apprentice. I have been in the MCWP/Hoist department for 4 years progressing within this department. I started off with general admin, then went into servicing and breakdown and I’m now in charge of RAMS and all contact with site managers for live jobs, I also manage our IPAF training centre.
In the beginning it was quite daunting as I was a young female having to tell men what to do, but after several years in this industry I learnt that you need to be confident and have full understanding in what you are saying, your gender doesn’t matter, you’ll be shown respect!
I have met so many different people and built relationships which is great for future works. I enjoy learning new things on a daily basis i.e. standards/machine details, being based in our yard has helped with my development and my knowledge in so many different areas, I’m hoping one day I will be able to install a hoist and MCWP with all this knowledge!'
Chloe - Quantity Surveyor, Brogan Group
'I first started with Brogan Group as a business and admin apprentice in 2014. Shortly after starting, I moved into the commercial department where I was then given the opportunity to attend South Bank University. I successfully passed my HNC in Construction Management and I am now a Quantity Surveyor and have been trusted to look after over 120 projects. Working in a male dominated environment was tricky at first. Walking into a room full of more experienced, older men as a young female QS was very daunting. However, over time I have been able to put into practice the things I’ve learnt from my colleagues, and now this isn’t an issue as I have gained confidence in my abilities and got to know many of clients.
What I enjoy most is that the job has shown me different parts of the UK, I have been able to meet many different people over the different projects and got to know clients on a more personal level” – Chloe Fern Quantity Surveyor, Brogan Group UK'
Arlene - Head of Accounts, UAE, Brogan Group
'Although the Accounts side of Construction can go unnoticed, on weekends I love that I can point out new and existing projects and say, “Hey we accomplished that together!” I believe there is a long way to go for women in Construction especially in the field, but with good attitudes, education, and platforms such as ‘Women in Construction’ the glass ceiling will soon be shattered. It is a very rewarding industry.'
Charlotte, Marketing Coordinator, UAE, Brogan Group:
'Having a Father who worked in the Construction Industry his whole working life, 12 of those years in the UAE, I can count on one hand how many female colleagues held the same position as him or higher. Yes, the construction industry is very male dominated across the globe and the Middle East in particular. However, I believe this is because of perception and the level of experience more so than what your gender is. Brogan Group has a fantastic grass roots program to encourage females to begin climbing the ladder in operational roles should they wish.'
Find out more about Brogan’s work in Corporate social responsibility