Women represent a significant labour force, yet have always been underrepresented in the UK construction industry. Patricia Hewitt, when minister for trade and industry, claimed that there are women who want to work in construction but are discouraged by its macho, male-dominated image.
Much has been done in recent years to attract women to the industry. In 2003 the CITB spoke of improving the image of the industry through changes in the working culture and launched a campaign to challenge the sector's male domination. Building has recently featured an article on a company actively seeking to increase its female workforce, and an article on daughters following their fathers into the industry.
With this in mind I admit I cringed when I read the coverage of the Building awards (13 April, page 42) and question the wisdom of selecting football as the theme for the evening. While I appreciate that there are many women who enjoy the beautiful game it cannot be denied that it, too, is perceived as macho and male-dominated. The photographs of the predominantly male audience adorned with symbols of a predominantly male sport will merely compound the perception many women already have of the construction industry. Hansom (page 29) described the tuxedo and football scarf combination as "slightly raffish"; I thought that it made the intelligent and well-dressed men look like readers of The Sun.
If the construction industry wishes to be seen in a more positive light; as an intelligent and inclusive industry, it should use such high-profile events to better its image, not to deepen ingrained stereotypes.
Jackie Deketelaere, building surveyor, Poole