26 RCI 0514

RCI May 2014

WOMEN IN CONSTRUCTION Trainer and passing on her knowledge as an assessor with the South West and South Wales Training Group. Tracy explained that she feels it is easier for women to make a career for themselves in construction and on sites today, thanks to a greater focus on health & safety and better facilities. She explained: “I don’t think it is still as big an issue as it was when I first started because I had a lot of resistance from people saying ‘oh, you won’t be able to lift the products and materials’ and all that sort of stuff – which I was able to do – and when I first started on sites the cement bags were twice as heavy as they are now! They’ve reduced the sizes now and with health & safety having gone the way it has, weights have been reduced, a lot of products are put up on scaffold by forklift where as when I was on site it was all done by shoulder. “There’s a big difference to the way things are done now which will probably make it even easier for women on site. Even toilets are different now. When I first started at college there wasn’t even a women’s toilet at college, I had to go into reception but now there are women’s toilets at construction colleges.” Lack of awareness Tracy believes it’s not really the stereotypes of male dominated sites that put women off, but it’s more a problem with the lack of awareness of the opportunities on offer for females in construction in schools, and that not enough is being done to make females aware of what’s available to them early enough. Tracy explained: “I think a lot of the problem is that it’s just not advertised in schools. When I was at school they pointed you towards jobs they thought you could do based on your education level, which to be honest I think is wrong. When I was at school I wanted to be an architect and I was told I wasn’t bright enough. Now i’m running an estimating course working off architects’ drawings.” So when asked if we need to change perceptions and overhaul what we are saying in schools, Tracy agrees and feels that is the way forward: “I think so yeah, and I know we are doing something towards that because at my son’s school on a newsletter they have sent through there’s a “women in construction day” at a local college just for the school kids, so there is certainly movement along those lines.” But as Tracy points out, it will be expensive to roll such schemes out across the UK, and it would be surprising if the Government didn’t feel money could be spent better elsewhere. We won’t see the day when women outnumber men on construction sites, and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing as long as females feel they have a fair opportunity and there aren’t any barriers blocking their route into a career in construction. The key point is not necessarily the number of women on construction sites, but ensuring that they have a clear route into the industry if that is the career they want to persue. At present, one of the key debates is how we overcome the skills shortages that blight our sector, and as Tracy has shown throughout her career there is no issue with women being able to do the job. Perhaps just targeting females earlier in schools and letting them know about the possibilities a career in construction can offer might be a step in the right direction. Why turn a blind eye to such a large potential workforce? HOSPITALS �� POWER �� PUBLIC BUILDINGS �� SCHOOLS �� SHOPPING CENTRES UNIQUE LIFTING SHOE SG4 FREESTANDING GUARDRAIL SYSTEM �� Unique patented lifting shoe �� Safe, secure and cost effective flat roof edge protection Please visit our website or call Whelan Plant: Tel: 01959 571788 Fax: 01959 571068 Email: info@shorguard.co.uk www.shorguard.co.uk SG4 A DIV OF JP WHELAN & SONS (CONSTRUCTION) LTD SG1 SG2 SG3 SG4 PERMANENT TEMPORARY SHORGUARD EDGE PROTECTION SYSTEMS


RCI May 2014
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