The UK construction industry employs more than 2.5 million people, but currently women make up just 11%* of the sector, but there's a steady stream of women challenging that statistic.
Whilst the overall statistics on women in construction are disappointing, we’re proud that many of our female employees are bucking the trend with positive stories of their own careers.
Many of our employees recently joined RIBA’s #seemejoinme campaign where construction professionals around the world shared a selfie with their job title to show young women, parents and teachers that careers in construction are not off-limits to girls.
Construction – not just a mans world
We’re also finding that more and more women are taking up the opportunity to work in construction roles on our building sites across the country. 19-year-old Shannon Hartigan is training to be an Assistant Site Manager and she’s found that her gender has been irrelevant to her chosen career.
“I don’t think working in the construction industry comes down to whether you’re male or female, but whether you have a passion for that particular field, and want to follow that passion and turn it into a career,” Shannon explains. “The opportunities are there for women, if that’s what they really want to do.”
From the army to an apprenticeship
Shannon was previously a Corporal in the Army Cadet Force before joining a Site Manager Apprenticeship scheme with Taylor Wimpey. She has worked at a development in Romford, Essex, and is now continuing her training at the company’s office in Brentwood.
She says being a woman in what has always traditionally been a man’s profession was, for her, quite normal. “I grew up with four brothers, and we’d always play football together and do things that weren’t necessarily girly,” she explains, “so I’ve never looked at something and thought it to be male or female.”
Shannon’s father and two brothers also work in the construction industry and she adds: “Construction was a trade that I really heard lots about from family, and something I have been interested in ever since – and I think I have fitted right in!
“As well as being part of the Army Cadets, I’ve also worked at a stable, so I’ve always been used to – and enjoy – working outside. This seemed like a perfect move for me in a field that I knew members of my family enjoyed."
Getting qualified whilst earning
As well as acquiring site knowledge, Shannon is also working towards relevant vocational qualifications during her three-year apprenticeship, while being supported by a personal mentor and spending time in different departments, including technical, commercial, land and planning and sales.
“I think what most appealed to me was that it wasn’t strictly just classroom or office work – the scheme really gets you involved in hands-on, practical work from the very beginning.
“I came into this with no great knowledge of the process of housebuilding, and I’ve developed a much greater understanding of it in such a short time.
“I am really enjoying my apprenticeship – I feel like all the time I’m developing myself, as well as having a certain level of responsibility within my role.”
If you’d like to find out more about a career in construction, visit our careers page or go to www.housebuildingcareers.org.uk