CITB poll confirms long-standing perception of construction industry as sexist

citb pollAround three-quarters of construction employers think the industry is still perceived as sexist, according to a new poll published by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) in recognition of International Women’s Day.

The survey of 1,500 employers from across the country revealed that 73% of respondents believe perceptions of a sexist culture are a major reason women are under-represented in the industry.

Despite recent figures showing that the number of women joining the construction has grown in recent years, the industry remains predominantly male-dominated. According to the CITB, men make up 85.5% of the total workforce, including 98% of all manual workers.

The new research also found that as well as wider perceptions of sexism, 78% of those asked also believe that the lack of female role models in the industry is a reason for few women in the industry.

However, the poll also found that those within the industry are aware of the need for more women to join, even suggesting strategies to attract women to construction. Six out of ten of those asked believe that a lack of awareness about the range of roles available to women was a further reason for low female representation, while 76% believe increased career promotion in schools would also help.

Gillian Econopouly, head of research at CITB, said:

“The industry is on course for a major comeback, but we need a dynamic and diverse workforce to help deliver it. This poll shows that construction employers realise we are still a long way from overcoming the perceptions of sexism in our sector, which potentially keep women away. However, it is reassuring that firms are thinking critically about how to make construction more inclusive.

“To attract the best skills and talent from all parts of society, we are challenging industry to make women and people from all backgrounds feel welcome and valued. One excellent way to do that is through the Be Fair Framework, which promotes the fair, inclusive and respectful industry we all want to see.”

The CITB’s Be Fair framework is designed to create a fair, inclusive and respectful industry and bring an end to outdates cultures and practices that have the capacity to exclude anyone looking to join the construction industry. All firms are encouraged to join the initiative, offering a range of practical guidance and support to help firms make their workplaces more inclusive. This could mean helping them improve recruitment policies, and making workplaces more welcoming to women and other under-represented groups.

Maria Pilfold, CITB board member and former group HR director of Taylor Wimpey, said:

“When I joined the construction industry 20 years ago, I was told by one worker that I should not be allowed on site as I was a woman. We have moved a long way from that, but there is still much to do to fully address perceptions of sexism.

“We need more female role models in the industry, and better career promotion in schools. Women need to know about the range of creative, flexible jobs available, with the opportunity to positively impact on the environment, travel and earn attractive salaries.

“Our industry needs more women in it, but we have to shout about what a great career construction is – for people of all backgrounds.”


No posts to display