What is Gender Inequality Really Costing the Construction Industry?
Over the next two months, we will be discussing Women in Construction and putting a spotlight on Gender Inequality & what it could potentially be costing the industry.
The construction industry remains one of the largest and most highly skilled industries, generating a whopping $360 billion in revenue. Unfortunately, it also holds the unenviable title for the industry with the biggest gender inequality and lowest female participation.
In 2020 there were just over 13,500 women working in construction trades which was more than double the amount in 2000 with 5,300, but these figures are still grossly disproportionate to their male counterparts.
It seems the problem isn’t just in the ‘hands-on’ area of the industry either but flows onto upper management roles. Men continue to dominate senior technical positions while women congregate in junior, support roles such as HR and marketing.
It’s not a question of whether women have the capacity to perform these more senior leadership roles either. Female leaders around the globe are showing themselves every bit as capable and perhaps more compassionate than their male equivalents.
Despite this, there have been numerous reports and studies that have confirmed, that when it comes to gender bias, the construction industry is one of the most severely lacking in female representation.
So why are females less involved and perceived to be less successful in this area?
Before we answer that question let us ask this. Is this bias even detrimental to the industry? And what are the benefits of addressing it?
Let’s change the perspective for a minute. It is no secret that men and women are incredibly different.
Scientific studies have shown men and women are not wired the same, emotionally, and intellectually. Brain scans have further confirmed that we process data differently.
For example, men have what is often described as a compartmentalised brain. They think in lines, as opposed to women whose brain is more weblike and interconnected. This is the reason women are traditionally better at multi-tasking than men, and men are better at completing one task effectively at a time.
The man’s brain is perfect to leverage when we need to get focused on a project or start working on a deadline. They are brilliant at working through problems one at a time and providing all the information in an organised and structured manner.
Leverage the woman’s brain if you want to think ‘big picture’ through to potential eventualities. Women can quickly identify possible options and obstacles. They are great at holistic thinking and drawing new connections and ideas. Leverage the man’s brain to get rid of ‘extra’ data.
By drawing on the strengths of both sexes and combining them to work together, we can create a force to be reckoned with, and a significant increase in efficiency and productivity.
Global research has shown that when businesswomen represent 30% or more of the senior leadership team or the board of directors, a company can be up to 64% more profitable than an organisation run just by men.
If capitalising on the equal-but-different strengths of each sex and demolishing gender bias gave your business even the slightest advantage over the competitor, wouldn’t that be worth it? Isn’t that what every business wants – The slight edge?
So, how does this relate to the construction industry?
In part two we will look at an investigation undertaken by the University of NSW (UNSW) on why existing formal policies and strategies to attract, retain and support the progression of women has failed to achieve gender equality. We will also consider some new strategies to rectify this.
A career in construction means being part of something bigger for males and females alike. It is one of the largest and possibly most exciting industries in Queensland. There are numerous benefits including the ability to ‘earn while you learn’ with options of apprenticeships and traineeships.
There is a multitude of different career paths, and it opens many doors for future growth and even the opportunity of self-employment.
Stay tuned for part two!
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Get in touch today to find out how you can be part of this billion-dollar industry.