On International Women’s Day, we’re taking the opportunity to celebrate diversity in the construction sector.

This year’s theme is #BreaktheBias and at Places for People, we’ve spoken to several of our female employees, all of whom are setting the standard for women’s achievement and progression in a historically male-dominated sector.

Regional Managing Director for our Central and North region Nilam Buchanan has worked in the construction sector for 32 years and while she has seen women face more challenges than their male counterparts in terms of getting ahead, she admits the industry has come a long way in recent years.

Nilam believes more now needs to be done to encourage women into construction, saying: “We need to be catching young people earlier when they are making their choices at secondary school and promoting the wide variety of opportunities that are available.”

Nilam is pictured fifth from right

She adds: “Young women need to be able to visualise themselves carrying out construction roles since visual representation is an important way to challenge stereotypes.”

It’s a sentiment echoed by her Central and North colleagues Jane Lawrence and Niamh Dixon, who – with over a decade’s construction experience between them – recently joined Places for People as Land Manager and Assistant Development Manager respectively.

“There are so many areas that women can work in and influence,” Jane explains, “not only in project management and land buying but in commercial or technical areas as well as out on site; we just need to raise awareness of the different routes available.”

Jane Lawrence

Niamh agrees. “It’s a fun industry to work in,” she says, “and we need to promote that more by raising awareness in the workplace and in schools.”

Niamh Dixon

Places for People’s Managing Director for Placemaking and Regeneration, Sammie Steele – 15 years into her construction career – believes that men also have a role to play in encouraging women into the sector.

Sammie Steele

“Getting in front of young women and really selling the construction industry is key,” she says, “via women of all levels in the industry but also via men.

“Men are key in this and without their support and understanding we will fail to change the perception that it’s a man’s world. Men must be central in the discussion for change.”

With 25 years’ experience of the property industry behind her, Regional Head of Sales and Marketing for our South East region Francesca Tizzard cites hard work, self-belief and ongoing learning as pre-requisites for advancement in this industry.

Francesca Tizzard

Currently studying for her RICS qualification, Francesca has this advice for women already employed in construction who wish to move up the ladder: “Start speaking with your employer to see if they can offer you an apprenticeship or other training. Talent is king right now and good companies are investing in people to keep skilled colleagues in post – make the most of that.”

Another construction veteran with 28 years’ experience, Technical Manager Laura Fiddes – one of the first women in Scotland to hold a Building Control senior management role – would like to see more women go into the site management side of the industry.

Laura Fiddes

“This is a section of the industry women haven’t really ventured into, but should”, she explains. “It’s not that there are issues about women being accepted on construction sites, it’s just that it hasn’t really been happening until now.

“It will come as the world is evolving.”

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