A diversity report for the Construction Industry Council (CIC), published in May, found that 13.5% of construction’s workers were women, compared with 46% in the working population as a whole. And that includes white collar professions such as architecture and quantity surveying, where women make up a much higher percentage of the workforce than contracting.
But the industry is part of society and reflects its attitudes and assumptions. So, the only professional body with anything like sexual equality is the Landscape Institute, because, presumably, of its congruence with gardening. When it comes to site work, dealing with the behaviour often exhibited by groups of men – laddishness, aggression and a quest for dominance – must play a part in determining the industry’s bargain with a woman who enters that environment.
We spent a day with Sharon Gordon, a 39-year-old contracts manager for Osborne. During her 23 years in the industry she has had to deal with colleagues who have bullied her, residents who have sexually threatened her, and employers who have made it clear they don’t believe she is up to the job. She has also established herself as a force to be reckoned with on the sites where she works.
Read the full report in Building at Sharon Gordon: how to survive as a woman in construction.