Could technology level gender disparity in Construction?

Posted on 06 March 2024

The construction industry has struggled to support women to enter, further and thrive in their roles. Women are poorly represented in the industry with only 19% of the workforce being female, with only 1% in construction trades. Construction is the worst within the gender pay gap UK where women in the industry only earn 76p for each £1 earned by their male peers.

Research conducted by the University of Central Lancashire discovered that reports of a masculine culture where women struggled to progress were validated. This research found that women's contributions were frequently and consistently excluded from designs and decisions.

It was also found that women who took career breaks, such as caring for family members, experienced difficulty in returning to work, reducing the participation of women in the industry.

In our latest blog, we take a look into how digital transformation can level the playing field for women in the construction sector.

How does the industry's digital transformation assist in gender equality?

The construction industry is experiencing a significant change as digital transformations replace traditional practices and methods of working. the digital sector also struggles to maintain gender equality, as only 26% of workers in the sector are female, with the percentage having a large decrease in senior roles.

Technological developments can present further challenges for gender equality, as qualities inherent in entrepreneurship such as wealth, growth, innovation and risk are traits historically associated with masculinity. Due to this, roles in technology and science, are largely dominated by men and are seen as male-dominated industries.

Alongside this, when learning skills outside of the core working hours, which results in career progression, can be more difficult for women, who tend to have more care responsibilities.

Creating a More Inclusive Future in Construction

The digital future of construction can also bring an opportunity for transformation. Individuals are beginning to consider how we can proactively use these technological developments to make the construction sector more inclusive.

Research in the past has highlighted the possibility for the digital landscape to become a more equal one. Identities online can assume any gender or none, so first impressions can be based on merit, rather than a conditioned response to an individual's gender presentation.

The historical reliance on physical strength in construction work is being challenged by the industry's digitalisation, where automation and robotics increasingly handle these tasks. This shift could challenge the stereotype of construction workers—particularly in site operations and professional roles—as exclusively embodying masculine strength.

The digital landscape offers a vital platform for women to connect and network, addressing a longstanding issue in the construction sector where women have felt excluded, hindering their career advancement. Digital platforms not only allow for more flexible networking in terms of timing and location but also empower women to assert their voices, fostering productive dialogues, as exemplified by initiatives like the Women In BIM network.

Digital spaces within the construction industry have broadened access to professional development opportunities, with women in built environment professions increasingly engaging in digital learning and networking compared to their male counterparts.

In the evolving digital workplace, traditional career trajectories are expected to become less appealing, potentially giving way to new, flexible environments that are not bound by location. This shift could particularly benefit individuals—both women and men—balancing work with family responsibilities. Consequently, the culture of long hours and visibility at work within the construction sector may finally transform.

How HSQ Recruitment Champions Diversity and Equality

At HSQ Recruitment, we are steadfast in our commitment to Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (ED&I) in every facet of our operations. Understanding that a diverse workforce is not only a moral imperative but also a critical factor in driving innovation and success, we are dedicated to ensuring that our recruitment practices reflect these values.

At HSQ Recruitment, we are not just recruiters; we are champions of diversity and inclusion, committed to making a real difference in the workforce through our practices and partnerships.

Knowledge and Compliance:

We pride ourselves on possessing an in-depth knowledge of equality legislation within the recruitment industry. This expertise extends to specialised areas, including support for ex-offenders and ex-force personnel, ensuring that our practices are not only compliant with legal standards but also actively inclusive.

Strategic Initiatives:

We understand that achieving a diverse workforce goes beyond mere tokenism or box-checking. It involves a deliberate and strategic approach to identify and attract a broad range of talents, experiences, and perspectives.

Organisational Objectives Alignment:

Our approach to ED&I is tightly aligned with the organisational objectives of our clients, both in the private and public sectors. We recognise that each organisation has unique needs and challenges, and we tailor our services to meet these specific requirements.

Continuous Improvement:

We are committed to continuous improvement in our ED&I practices. This involves regular reviews of our processes, seeking feedback from clients and candidates, and staying abreast of the latest developments in equality legislation and best practices.

Collaboration and Partnership:

Lastly, we believe in the power of collaboration and partnership in achieving our ED&I goals. We actively seek to work with organisations, communities, and individuals who share our commitment to diversity and inclusion. By working together, we can create more opportunities, break down barriers, and build a more equitable and inclusive recruitment landscape.

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