Women in construction

Construction has a poor record for gender diversity, but that’s something we’re working hard to change.

Women account for just 11% of the total workforce in construction, and the figure drops to just 4% in trades like carpentry, bricklaying and plumbing. There’s a shortage of skilled labour within the construction industry, so the fact that half the population could be put off by a stereotypical gendered image is all the more concerning.

At Landsec, we realise that to create spaces that appeal to everyone, we need diversity of experience and ideas both within our own workforce and across our construction partners.

Girls Can Do It Too

To address the gender imbalance in construction, we decided to work at grassroots level with young girls of 12 and 13 years old. We chose this age group because we wanted to spark an interest in construction before GCSE subjects were chosen. Science, technology and maths are vital for a future in engineering, architecture or planning.

girls-can-do-it-too-1

So we worked with social enterprise, the Ahead Partnership, to create an initiative called Girls Can Do It Too. One of the most important parts of the initiative was giving students the opportunity to work with women in the industry. Volunteers from Landsec, Keltbray, JLL and Duprez Consulting went into schools to give advice and share their career stories, as well as taking part in launch and finale events.

Pupils discovered that the construction and property sector offers a huge diversity of career options, and they were encouraged to learn about everything from planning and project management, to finance and sustainability.

Piloting the programme

The voluntary scheme was trialled at two schools in inner London - St Martin-in-the-Fields High School for Girls in Tulse Hill and Mount Carmel Catholic College for Girls in Archway – where the take-up and enthusiasm was really encouraging.

As part of the scheme, we brought the pupils from both schools to our Victoria offices for the day. Our London Portfolio Managing Director Colette O’Shea was one of the volunteers who shared her career story before the girls got hands-on with interactive workshops about demolition and tower building, and were given a tour of our new head office.

The girls then worked in teams to design, budget and plan their own development project over an eight week period, with our industry volunteers on hand to consult and advise. For the finale, the students built a model of their project and pitched the concept to a Dragons’ Den-style panel, all inside 20 Fenchurch Street for added inspiration.

Winning Project Women In Construction
The winning project

The winning design was a futuristic leisure centre in the shape of a giant football, constructed by Mount Carmel students.

What’s next?

Girls Can Do It Too was so successful we’ll be running the programme again at the same schools next year and we’re speaking to teachers from other schools with a view to rolling it out more widely as part of our education programme.

We’re also supporting the Sir Simon Milton Westminster University Technical College, a new school focused on transport and construction, which opens its doors to students in September. As a founding member of the school’s Employer Alliance, we’ve been supporting student recruitment and are encouraged by the numbers so far – more than 30% of GCSE students and 20% of sixth-formers are female.

It’ll be several years before any of these students enter the workforce, but witnessing the commitment and enthusiasm for Girls Can Do It Too, we’re excited about the potential this future generation will bring to our industry.

Ben Anderson

Community Manager

Ben Anderson