What is your experience of attitudes towards women in your company?
Things have changed a lot since a decade ago – back then the firm I worked for employed just one female site manager, who actually ended up leaving the company – but now you see many female professionals on and off site. However, professional women are still under-represented. I’ve also found that women generally have to prove themselves more than men do to be taken seriously as a competent employee.
Paul Corner ICIOB, project manager, Morrison Construction
Sadly it often seems to be the case that managers are not backing women for promotion and women are being assigned to lower-value projects. However, I’ve generally had a fairly good experience, ie it hasn’t been any worse than I expected. You have to go into these things with your eyes open. I’ve tried to get on with doing the job and don’t expect to be treated any differently by anyone, which seems to work. To really progress to senior management you have to be more committed, but these days there are more flexible working arrangements, to make it more of an option for women to make that progression.
Cathy Partington, team leader, Rok
There are some elements of the industry that have difficulty with women on site, but the majority accept it because there are more and more women coming through. Once I was on site in full kit, and was asked by someone external if I was the site manager’s secretary! I started seven years ago as production trainee, and I think my promotions have been on a par with male colleagues. But I have just started a family, and there might be difficulties of combining childcare with site hours of 7am to 5pm. My company appears to be quite flexible, but we’ll have to see how it pans out.
Woman site manager, name withheld
I’ve found women can use their female characteristics to their benefit on construction sites. Men can be naturally quite confrontational, but a woman is more likely to listen and can defuse a situation. I’ve also noticed that men can be more likely to take what a female manager says more seriously because she isn’t so confrontational. The flip side is you can get men who are sexist towards women because they aren’t openly macho on site, although I’ve not witnessed this directly at Kier. One of our directors is a woman who progressed from a site management role, and that’s a hard jump to make even if you’re a man.
James Carpenter, construction manager, Kier Build