It is two years since we first published this collection of essays. Over that time the number of women in work has increased to nearly half the workforce, with many more in professional and technical jobs. Unfortunately, one area where change has been less forthcoming is the number of women working in construction and the manual trades.
Nevertheless, efforts are being made by employers, unions, professional organisations, government, schools, training agencies and others to encourage more women into the construction industries and offer support once in work. This kind of concerted action to significantly improve both recruitment and retention is far from easy, but as Construction Youth Trust’s #notjustforboys campaign (more details are at the end of the report) shows misconceptions, prejudice and bad practices that are at the root of the problem can be over-turned and young people can be inspired to think differently. Worsening skills shortages and the prospect of post-Brexit restrictions on migrant labour mean UK construction will have to recruit more women. Failure to act will damage our future prosperity.
We are delighted that this edition has a foreword by Terrie Alafat, chief executive of the CIH and an additional chapter on what is being achieved in Zambia. These add to the original collection which not only put the spotlight on the different problems women face, but most importantly demonstrates how things can be improved. The authors’ shared focus is on pushing forward a much needed cultural change and putting women at the forefront of the modernisation of the construction industries. Nothing less will do.