Construction College Pushes for Gender Equality on International Women’s Day 2021

International Women's Day logo

TODAY (Monday 8 March), Leeds College of Building is joining others globally in supporting the International Women’s Day campaign ‘Choose To Challenge.’

The College says it has made great strides in pushing gender parity in construction. Female apprentices at Leeds College of Building have also grown from 33 in 2014 to 190 by 2020, an incredible 475% increase over 6 years.

However, more work is needed to address the diversity of the construction industry. In 2019, GMB (the union for construction workers) revealed that just one in eight construction workers are women. By analysing official statistics, it’s predicted that it would take almost 200 years to achieve gender equality in the construction industry at the present rate of recruitment.

Women in Construction

As a result, the College will be hosting a free female-only virtual open event later today on 8 March, at 5-7pm. The event is designed for women who would like to know more about a career in the construction industry.

Videos by staff and students will showcase being a woman in the construction industry today and the varied opportunities available. The College Team are also available on live chat via the website.

International Women’s Day

Marked annually, International Women’s Day (IWD) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender equality.

Activity takes place worldwide as groups come together to celebrate women’s achievements or rally for women’s rights. Last week, Women in Roofing called for more action on female recruitment in the roofing sector.

Woman construction worker
Ruth Watson, former Civil Engineering apprentice at Leeds College of Building

Inspiring and Encouraging

Ruth Watson, a former Leeds College of Building Civil Engineering Apprentice, said: “Engineers help shape the future, so it’s critical that we inspire and encourage the younger generation to consider engineering. When I enrolled, I was one of only two girls in my class of 25. By the end of my programme, the number of female students at College had increased discernibly, which was fantastic to see.

“I hope I can help to break down stereotypes and be part of the huge change that is taking place in this sector. I’d encourage other women to follow their passion and pursue a meaningful career. I’m very optimistic about the future and excited about the years to come in this diverse and rewarding industry.”

Today, the Faculty of Higher Education, Construction Design & Management at Leeds College of Building employs 30% female staff (out of a total of 56 staff). Women lecturers come from a wide range careers including architecture, civil engineering, quantity surveying, and transport planning.

Passion for Construction

Nikki Davison, Degree Apprenticeship Development Curriculum Manager and Quantity Surveyor, said: “The construction industry is constantly developing, with continual reviews of legislation, innovative technology, and ground-breaking construction methods. All of this makes it a very exciting industry to work in.

“I started my career as a trainee Quantity Surveyor some 20 years ago. Today, thankfully, women are not only accepted, but we are encouraged in the industry. This is evident in the quantity and experiences of female students at the College who display a passion for construction, be that in a trade like painting or joinery, or in a role like engineering, surveying, or architecture.”

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