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The pace of change over the last ten years has created jobs that did not exist 10 years ago.  The increasing uptake of technology is advancing the construction industry into new and exciting spaces where sustainability and digital adoption is to the fore.  With all change, it is vital that leaders are equipped with key skills in managing the change process, identifying and obtaining top talent is crucial in delivering high quality projects on time. 

It is absolutely imperative that 50% of our population i.e. women are not forgotten in recruitment efforts to attract the very best.  There are vast opportunities for construction companies to capitalise on digitalisation, and the industry’s missions to reach carbon zero by 2050.  The changing landscape of the sector with the roll out of modern methods of construction, new roles in construction with BIM Engineers, 3D printing operatives and sustainability officers requires a rethink of how the industry positions itself to the masses. 

The common perception of dust, inclement weather, hard labour, physically demanding work, macho culture and male dominated sector pervades the industry and needs a radical overhaul. This is compounded by the ever-increasing skills gap and labour shortage.  In its efforts to modernise, there is no question the very makeup of the industry needs to address its diversity problem.  The CSO calculate 9% of women representation in the Irish Construction Industry. 

The good news is that there are positive developments in the industry.  We are seeing more women in Senior Management roles and there is a growing number of support groups in place to mentor and provide information and support to women in the industry.  Women in BIM (WiB) provides a mentoring support to women. They organise networking events where women can meet and learn from each other.

What is needed to move the dial?

At a micro level, it is important that there is up to date information available to young women thinking about a career in construction.  Access to senior female role models or women who have successfully navigated the industry is helpful in getting first hand insight into the culture and working demands of the sector.

It is important that we see women who hold positions of influence in the industry.  Encouraging women to take part in conferences, submitting articles, getting involved in PR events in their companies and being visible really helps us to see change.   Women in Senior management roles inspire women to be and pave the way for those behind.


Encouraging and supporting women is key in creating supportive networks to develop skills and meet their work goals.

At a macro level we need buy in from construction companies to pave the way for women to thrive.  A holistic diversity and inclusion and gender audit should allow companies to draw up their diversity and inclusion and gender action plan.  It is not effective on paper only. The plan should contain tangible actions that illicit change and remove the structural obstacles that impede women from entering or indeed staying in construction.  Furthermore, government policy should pay heed to the great societal service parents provide in taking time to spend with their babies and children in their formative years.  They should not be penalised for this.  The lack of progressive childcare policies perpetuates the cycle of couples deciding on care provision based on their gender and/or economic position.  More support would give both parents freedom to enjoy high quality time with their new born.

Advance and Retain

Disappointingly, research shows that a number of women leave careers in construction after only a few years. This can be for many different reasons, but mainly because of gender pay gaps, lack of opportunities and discrimination. WIB celebrate women in BIM roles and provide opportunities for further advancement, but what can BIM offer to women considering a career in construction?

As innovation drives change, construction is becoming less about manual labour, cold site offices and ‘muddy boots’, and more about offsite modern methods of construction and digital processes which may be more appealing to women. The construction site is becoming a safer environment where manual strength is not necessary to assemble a building. BIM is key to the successful delivery of these innovative construction methods, and women can play a very important role right through the project lifecycle.

There are now more diverse, rewarding and challenging opportunities that are not gender-specific and will hopefully dispel the perception that construction is a male-dominated industry. Roles such as BIM consultant, BIM manager, BIM coordinator and BIM technician are needed at all stages of the project, from the early strategic stage, advising the client on how they can leverage BIM for their project, to the design stage, where multi-discipline collaboration enhances decision making, to the construction stage, where BIM is used for logistics, planning and coordination, right through to the in-use stage, where BIM is used for facilities management. In order for the industry to attract women and encourage diversity we need to publicise these roles and opportunities.

What else can the construction industry do?

  • Highlight a career in construction to second-level students through programmes like Engineers Ireland STEPS and ensure that women are well represented in these programmes.
  • In addition to engaging with second-level students, it is now widely understood that we need to engage with young people even before they go to secondary school. Therefore, having female role models promoting construction careers in primary school is also critical to appeal to young girls.
  • Clearly promote the wide range of exciting roles and opportunities and showcase how the industry is developing into a diverse environment to dispel the outdated image of the male-dominated workplace.
  • Sustain the proactive campaigns such as the Construction Industry Federation’s campaign ‘Building Equality, Be a role model, Inspire’, that the industry has run in recent years to recruit women into construction.
  • Raise the profile of women to help encourage others into the industry through role models and mentoring.
  • Since women currently make up less than 10% of the Irish construction workforce, we need men to take responsibility and become actively involved in driving change.
  • More transparency is needed for gender pay gaps to promote equality between men and women in similar roles
  • In the past, construction was seen to have a culture of sexism, discrimination and bullying, but in order for women to see the industry as a career prospect, it is critical that we eliminate this perception and showcase the industry as an inclusive and supportive culture.

Many of these steps are already being addressed by the industry, but I think it is important to reiterate them so we keep the momentum and see more girls choosing careers in construction, and more women staying in construction to take on leading roles in the industry

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