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8th March 2019

Balance for Better: Be the change you want to see

For International Women’s Day, we spoke with one group of women who are being the change they want to see in the construction industry. Novus is our network of young construction professionals, and our Novus Group in Manchester are challenging the status quo with a committee where, for the first time, the majority are women.

Below, four of the committee each share with us what they are doing, and what they want to see, to make the sector more accessible to women and why they love their career choice.

From L-R: Zoe Francis MCIOB MCIHT - Section Engineer, BAM Nuttall; Nicola Hodson MCIOB - Standards Advisor, Wates Group; Ema Klevan - Assistant Project Manager (Consultancy), Mace; Jessica Logan - Assistant Project Manager (Consultancy), Mace

Zoe Francis MCIOB MCIHT - Section Engineer, BAM Nuttall

Our industry has come so far in the last few years, and I think it is an amazing industry in which there are endless opportunities and ever developing roles. A career in construction and infrastructure is fantastically rewarding and gives you so many skills to progress, with the opportunity to work on some amazing projects and build the future. I think it is important to shout about construction to ensure that perceptions of our industry are changed and to attract future generations, both male and female, to enter a construction career to help us grow.

Nicola Hodson MCIOB - Standards Advisor, Wates Group

To thrive in the construction industry as a woman, you should consider yourself in the same light as you wish to be considered by others, in my opinion. Despite often being the only woman in the room when on a course or on a construction site, I make a conscious effort to simply be myself and not view myself as the minority. Through completion of Wates’ Early Careers Scheme and becoming a Chartered Construction Manager with the CIOB, I gained the confidence to apply for an internal vacancy. It was a completely different position to that of my previous role on site – and I’m delighted to say I was successful. I have now been in my new job for six weeks and I love the new and varied challenges it offers. The best advice I can give is: treat your career as a business. Set yourself a mission statement and stick to it. Embrace every opportunity that is relevant to your passion and be confident in saying no to the ones that aren’t related.

Ema Klevan - Assistant Project Manager (Consultancy), Mace

I think our industry has come a long way, but still has a hard road ahead. For example, construction has the worst gender pay gap of any UK industry. This needs to change. Mace are rolling out unconscious bias training, creating a parents’ support network, and has a Women of the Future programme to retain and develop future female leaders. I am currently in the final year of our Graduate Programme and nearly 40% of the graduate intake are now women; a testament to the progress we have already made. I also run Mace’s schools outreach programme, Foundation for your Future, in the North and Scotland region which aims to increase gender diversity and change girls’ perception of their career choices. We’ve had fantastic results so far and there is lots more to come in 2019.

Jessica Logan - Assistant Project Manager (Consultancy), Mace

As there is a strong perception a successful career in construction is only accessible to the male gender, I am proud that my female peers and I can prove this outlook is outdated. The varied skill sets required for the wide range of roles available means construction is an industry for all. The constant changes in industry standards brings new and exciting challenges, often leading to innovations which create further opportunities for a diverse workforce.

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