7 July 2014
A project set up to redress women’s longstanding underrepresentation in the construction industry is achieving significant successes, according to a study carried out by Dr Tessa Wright of the Centre for Research in Equality and Diversity at Queen Mary University of London.
The Women into Construction (WiC) project was established in 2008 by the Olympic Delivery Authority to provide opportunities for women to work on the construction of London’s Olympic Park. Following its successful results for women on the Olympic Park site, the project was continued with funding from the industry skills body CITB and hosted by the charity Be Onsite, and it is now completing its sixth year.
Women still represent only one per cent of those in craft and trades occupations and eleven per cent of those in the construction professions. However, the WiC project is operating a successful model to increase women’s numbers by providing supported work experience placements and linking women to employment opportunities that they are not gaining through other routes.
Report author Tessa Wright, Senior Lecturer within the School of Business and Management, said: “One of the factors in the success of the model used by the project is that it addresses both supply and demand. It ensures that women are well prepared and trained to enter the construction industry and, crucially, it provides opportunities for women to gain experience with construction employers.”
Employers involved with the project benefitted from access to well-prepared, qualified women applicants eager to work in construction, while women participants valued the opportunities provided by the project to “get a foot in the door” of the industry, often after long periods of looking for work.
Minister of State for Employment Esther McVey spoke at the launch of the research at the Olympic Park on 2 July. She said: "Speaking to the women at the launch of this report, it is clear why projects like Women into Construction are so important because they open doors to an exciting and varied career that previously people may not have considered.”
Judy Lowe, Deputy Chairman of CITB, said: "This is an excellent report. For the first time, it shows what we women in construction have always known instinctively: that there is a terrific future for women in the industry and the enlightened employers will be the ones to reap the benefits."
Attending the report launch were several of the employers and women who have benefitted from participation in the project. Bukky Olose, an environmental engineer, said: “If it wasn’t for this project I wouldn’t have the job I have today. I looked for work for years, I had all the qualifications in engineering and I couldn’t get my feet into anywhere, I sent my CV's, knocked at doors… but nothing was really coming until I came into contact with [the project]”.
Download full report - The Women into Construction Project: an assessment of a model for increasing women?s participation in construction? [PDF 2,831KB]