Female employees can make up as little as 10% of total staff and are unlikely to gain equity

The 2008 Building Good Employer guide has revealed the extent to which women are under-represented in the construction industry, even among its best employers. The average percentage of female non-support staff among the contractors was 10%. Engineers were a little better, with 13%, and general consultants employed 14%. The exception was architecture, where 27% of all employees are female.

Some firms employed many more women than others, for example contractor Lakehouse (18%) and consulting engineer Price & Myers (22%). Among the large surveyors, Turner & Townsend (30%) had the best balanced workforce, and the firms closest to an equal split were two architects: Quattro and Shepheard Epstein Hunter (both with 42%).

The survey also revealed that female equity partners are exceedingly scarce. On average, contractors had fewer than one female in an executive role, architects had one and a half, engineers had two and the other consultants averaged three.

The disparity is greatest among architects. Two firms that were more than 40% female had no female equity partners. The firms that came out on top were David Morley and Pozzoni, with four apiece.

The exceptional to the rule was consulting engineer Max Fordham, which has 18 female partners out of 156 staff, compared with the next highest, EC Harris, which has seven out of 2,751 staff.

The survey was compiled from about 30,000 questionnaires which were sent to employees across the industry.