Survey shows employers are offering more flexible working arrangements compared with five years ago

Conditions for women in construction have improved over the past five years, according to a survey out this week.

An initial survey five years ago conducted by construction recruitment specialist Hill McGlynn showed that women made up only 1% of the total UK construction workforce. Many said that inflexible hours and the industry’s working conditions were the main hurdles for any woman considering a career in construction.
Now, a new survey by the same firm – now known as Randstad Construction, Property & Engineering – shows there has been an eight percentage point increase in the number of women working in the industry, with 19.7% of those surveyed stating that they chose building or engineering as they wanted a “different career”.

The 2010 survey shows an increase in women working in the trades and project management disciplines. Although 41.1% women still remain in office-based roles within the industry, more than half (56.2%) are now working both on and off-site.
Women’s concern over flexible working hours has been addressed in many cases with 68% of the women surveyed saying they felt that their employer “would be sympathetic to more flexible hours if they were to have children” – an increase of 13 percentage points in five years.
While the survey showed moves have been made to better accommodate women working in the industry, there are still areas that need work. Over 90% of the women surveyed said they have been directly affected by or have witnessed sexism within the industry.
Mark Bull, managing director of Randstad CPE, said: “I am not surprised to see a rise in the number of women who have been working in the industry. In fact, in many ways, it is a positive sign that they are continuing to enjoy their work and that employers are becoming more flexible in their approach to working hours. More needs to be done to counteract sexism.

“Another major concern is the lack of new blood coming into the building and engineering market. When the industry does pick up, it is the next generation workforce which will take our industry into the coming decades and we need to continue to promote and present our industry as one with exciting and sustainable career prospects. We will revisit this survey again in 2015 and it will be interesting to see how far we have come in our attitudes to women in the industry over a full ten years.”