The evolution of a more diverse engineering and construction workforce

Women are underrepresented in the engineering and construction industries, with only 16.5% of UK engineers and 23% of construction and utilities workers being female.

Despite the low number of women in engineering, there has been some progress in recent years, with the number of women working in the field doubling over a decade.

With the number of girls taking STEM A-Levels increasing by 31% in recent years, data suggests that more girls are interested in careers in engineering and construction.

This indicates construction sector still needs to do more to achieve its goal of a 30% female STEM workforce by 2030.

Find out how industries are building a more diverse workforce, and what forward-thinking businesses can do to follow their lead.

The responsibility of organisations

Organizations like Women in Science & Engineering (WISE) and the Women’s Engineering Society (WES) have played a vital role in encouraging more women to pursue careers in engineering.

WISE actively reaches out to the community to educate young girls about engineering careers and encourage older women to apply or retrain for engineering roles, from office work to operating structural engineering software.

An important way to encourage girls to pursue STEM subjects at school is to make STEM role models more visible.

We need to change things so that children are not discouraged from studying certain subjects, either consciously or subconsciously.

Adjusting company policies

Many construction companies are also shifting their cultures. The industry is still often seen as a masculine environment, with profane humor, back-breaking manual labor, muddy boots, and cold construction sites. However, companies are starting to recognize that this culture is outdated and out of touch with modern sensibilities.

A shocking 72% of women in construction report experiencing gender discrimination, with 41% saying they have received inappropriate comments from male colleagues.

Construction companies need to take concrete steps to combat gender discrimination and harassment, such as maintaining a zero-tolerance policy, updating hygiene and toilet facilities to be gender-inclusive, and investing in equipment that fits women.

Technology and innovation have transformed the construction industry, making it less reliant on manual labor and outdated notions of women’s physical capabilities.

Women can operate the same machinery as men, and construction offers a diversity of roles, such as architect, design manager, surveyor, town planner, and engineer. More education is needed to raise awareness of these opportunities.

Profiling women leaders in construction

Award ceremonies are an important way to recognize and celebrate successful women in construction, giving them public visibility and status.

One example of an award ceremony that recognizes and celebrates successful women in construction is the IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year Awards.

The Top 100 Influential Women in Construction Awards celebrate and showcase women and non-binary role models in the construction industry, making them more visible and accessible.