Clarkson Alliance’s Kate Donovan attended the Inspire Summit: Women in Construction event earlier this month. Here are some of her insights from the day.
Only 10-12% of the Construction Industry is female. This was a key statistics at the first Inspire Summit in Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall. Even by the best estimation, this is not a high proportion. The construction industry faces a skills shortage over the next few years, and there is a significant, untapped resource within 50% of the UK population: the women.
One of the challenges faced by the industry is overcoming the wide-spread public perception of ‘pink’ or female orientated and ‘blue’, male orientated careers. Construction is widely considered to falls heavily in the ‘blue’ job bracket, one that is ‘full of muddy boots and hard hats’. The Inspire Summit 2017 set out to breakdown this stereotype and discuss the impact women can bring to an industry struggling with diversity.
So, what can be done?
A big driving force coming out of conferences such as Inspire look at the rising impact of soft skills – such as those linked to emotional intelligence and empathy – those that women often possess in abundance. The industry is waking up to the benefits of these skills and how they can help the sector build stronger team-building in projects. According to the McKinsey Diversity Database 2015, a diverse workforce is more likely to perform better financially, so the rise in gender equality in the construction industry is more than just a box ticking exercise.
Inspire is at the forefront of this wave of development, pushing the construction world into a more representative and sustainable future. In this regard, we collectively are making progress, now we just need to put this into practice. As Emma Nicholls (Your Red Dress Ltd.) a speaker and panelist at the Inspire event stated: “Women don’t just need to fit in, they need to stand out!”