Society has come a long way in terms of gender equality in the last decades. In all areas, the presence and performance of women cannot go unnoticed. Whether it is fast food, real estate, financial services, smartphones, TV shows, fashion retails, pharmaceuticals, retail or even roofing, shipping and trucking, women entrepreneurs have reached success and made fortunes.
The Gender Gap
However, some male-dominated cases have stubbornly resisted the trend. One of these domains is the construction industry. Asia, which sees the largest number of female billionaires, also sees the widest gender discrimination in construction.
A study on the Indian construction sector has shown that because of late entry into the industry, women lack the necessary skills and so they are severely underpaid. This only works to create a vicious circle keeping women in the lower steps of the construction employment market.
Despite a gross pay gap, the construction sector in India employs one of the largest numbers of women, second only to agriculture. But this kind of employment is closer to exploitation, with many women being harassed and overworked without protection both at home and in the workplace.
Good organizers, managers, and communicators, many women working in construction have management-level jobs. An innovation engineer, United Kingdom’s Giulia Privitera is one such woman.
Her accomplishments were recognized when she won the Project Manager of the Year Award at the 2017 Women in Construction Awards for her work at the UK power networks. And yet, women in positions of responsibility have their ability to lead constantly challenged.
Even at a higher level in the company hierarchy, women have to face stereotypes and prejudices relating to their ability as professionals.
And yet, women in positions of responsibility have their ability to lead constantly challenged. Even at a higher level in the company hierarchy, women have to face stereotypes and prejudices relating to their ability as professionals. We should all strive to make the gender gap disappear!
A Handful of Rebels
Down at the ground level of work teams and heavy machinery operators, the disadvantages and hardships women deal with in construction are even more obvious. However, this did not discourage the few women working in the industry from massacring their best construction boots.
In western countries, the percentage of women working in construction is still low – around 10%. If the gender pay gap has been closing in other sectors of the economy, for women in the economy it is a blatant reality.
Together with the existing prejudices, this served as an actual barrier, keeping women out of construction for a long period of time.
Many women were not deterred by the conditions of working in construction. Because of them, even this last stand made by gap discrimination is fading. One example is Philippa Tuttiett.
Taking over the family business, Philippa became a qualified builder while in college. On construction sites since the age of 10, she faced stereotypes on all levels of the industry.
Overall, the reality is that on a wider level, women have been succeeding not only as employers but especially as business owners and entrepreneurs.
Theresa Daytner of the Daytner Construction group saw her company rise to be a success, with annual revenues of millions of dollars. Eager to learn and grow, she is a down-to-earth entrepreneur set on the path of success.
If progress has been made elsewhere, there are still a lot of ways to go, and sectors like that of construction prove it every day. This industry can be a breeding ground for condescending and sexist overtones. It’s not a man’s job just because men have more muscle power!
This goes back to the roles that the community envisions and ascribes to men and women from the age of childhood. While the boy gets toy swords and power tools, the girl is limited to fashion and family-related articles.
While this in itself is not a conscious act nor a conspiracy of toy makers, it’s important to remember that both men and women can have any role they desire in society. Women like the ones working in construction are real life trailblazers, challenging old views regarding women as “the weaker sex”. They prove on a daily basis that not only is it wrong to deny women entry into construction, it’s also not smart because:
- Women are better communicators. The problem with having an all-boys club is that it doesn’t necessarily imply it will perform better. Women are amazing problem-solvers and their presence in construction, be it in management or work teams, can only be beneficial from that point of view.
- Physical strength is not as vital as one would imagine. With the help of modern tools and heavy machinery, construction has changed deeply over the years. It’s still the industry with the highest number of work-related accidents, but the conception that it needs upper body strength is simply wrong.
- The ability to relate to others makes women better team leaders and managers. Some men, particularly working in construction, may have a problem with following the lead of a woman. This is another pride-related issue that will be overcome as women prove themselves in every field of activity.
- Society doesn’t gain anything from keeping women out of construction. Simply put, more women at work means a better quality of life for them and their families and more money to the state.
Just a few decades ago, the prominence of women in sectors such as construction was inconceivable. Thanks to a handful of trailblazers in construction boots, that stereotype has changed dramatically to the benefit of everyone.