Women in Construction Questionnaire: The Results - Presented as part of IWD 8th March


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Manchester Women's Design Group sent out a questionnaire in 2013 to ask women working in the construction and development industries for their thoughts and experiences. Val has put together a presentation with the results and kindly presented this as part of International Women's Day 2014 at Manchester Town Hall.

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Women in Construction Questionnaire: The Results - Presented as part of IWD 8th March

  1. 1. Women in Construction Manchester Women’s Design Group 2014
  2. 2. Who are we? Manchester Women’s Design Group are a group of women from all over Greater Manchester who are enthused about working for and with the community to highlight and raise awareness of gender issues in the built environment We have undertaken projects looking at space and design: Emotional Mapping Manchester City Walks Support for International Women’s Day Current project – Women in Construction questionnaire
  3. 3. Women in Construction Purpose of questionnaire to: • Gather views of women who have worked or are currently working in construction • Find out the positives and negatives, for women, of the current working environment • Share experiences and stories • Offer some tips to women thinking of a career, or new to the industry • Produce a booklet to distribute • Raise the profile/promote the industry to girls • Encourage more women to talk about their experiences and influence change
  4. 4. Questionnaire Design • 23 questions about experiences • Further 5 personal information (optional) questions • Majority open questions to encourage qualitative data • ‘Tell us more’ options • Distributed via our current links and networks to people in construction • Aimed at women architects, planners, designers, trades - anyone in the construction related environment • Why survey women in construction?
  5. 5. Why survey women in construction? Women in construction - the vital statistics 13% of total workforce 80% in support roles 20% of RIBA members 15% of RICS members 5% of CIOB members 1.2% of site workers Construction News 2012
  6. 6. Survey Results • 47 responses - 45 respondents women, 2 did not say • 62% office based • 4% on site • 34% both on site and office • 40% Public Sector workers • 60% employed in the Private Sector
  7. 7. Survey Results Age of Respondents Range % 18 – 25 14% 26 – 40 47% 41 – 60 34% 60 plus 5%
  8. 8. 0.0% 5.0% 10.0% 15.0% 20.0% 25.0% 30.0% 35.0% 40.0% 45.0% What area of the construction industry are you in?
  9. 9. Do you work in an office, on site, or both? Office On site Both 62% office based 4% on site 34% both on site and office
  10. 10. Survey Results Proportion of women to men in the office/working environment (43 responses, 2 of which self employed): % Women % Respondents 10% and under 15% 15% 5% 20% - 25% 19% 30 - 35% 19% 40% 10% 50% 17% Over 50% 15% 70% 7%
  11. 11. Survey Results Summary re Proportions of Men to Women: • Over two thirds of the respondents (68%) said that there were fewer than 50% of women in their workplace in proportion to men • 17% of women worked with and equal number of men • In 15% of workplaces there were more women than men
  12. 12. Survey Results Are the same career opportunities available to men and women where you work? • 64% Yes • 15% No • 21% Don’t know  Positive that over half feel there are the same opportunities  Disappointing that just under quarter don’t know
  13. 13. Survey Results • 25% Yes • 64% No • 11% Don’t know Are you sometimes given different jobs or tasks to do compared with the men you work with? Yes No Don't Know
  14. 14. Survey Results Are you sometimes given different jobs or tasks to do compared with the men you work with? - Tell us more: Positives Negatives So far treated the same as men Still some preconceptions about ability Good at different things – utilizes our strengths Previously – they thought it was my role to make the tea Never a situation where that seemed as if a male was getting different jobs due to gender I’m treated very differently especially as working mum I am still at university and I feel things are pretty even between the sexes Equally experienced male peers receive higher budget projects. Males climb the ladder quicker, in the public & private sector I think the workload is distributed evenly – things are equal Men are generally assigned bigger schemes
  15. 15. Survey Results Are you sometimes given different jobs or tasks to do compared with the men you work with? - Tell us more: Positives Negatives Not that I am aware of – I don’t feel that’s the case but I’ve not really thought about it In the past – especially making tea in meetings and doing PR things – but I got wise to it People treat me differently, think more women are attracted to the work I do. Men, even frail men, will jump up and lift something for me Positive/negative In the industry – often the word of the man was taken but the woman had to get the boss to back her up to be taken seriously Director quite forward thinking – gave me lots of opportunity to develop into the role (a support role rather than professional role) Often given the more menial task and assumed I unable to carry heavy loads even though have equipment to carry the loads
  16. 16. Survey Results • 32% Yes • 45% No • 23% Don’t know Have you ever experienced disadvantage in the construction industry because of your gender? Yes No Don't Know
  17. 17. Survey Results Have you ever experienced disadvantage in the construction industry because of your gender? - Tell us more Positives Negatives I have always been on site as an observer and to ensure grant conditions are being met – I have not experienced disadvantage but I have experienced sexism (positive and negative) In my old company I was not taken seriously as a technical person Quite new to it so not as yet Have accepted that. With no desire to play golf, many of the men in my team have more opportunity to build relationships with clients/prospective clients. But find doing a good job is just as effective for repeat work/recommendations Not that I have been aware of No. I have experienced an advantage, especially on site where contractors likely to be more helpful Where do I begin - sexual harassment, ignored for promotion, given lower grade instructions, made redundant before less qualified / experienced men
  18. 18. Survey Results Have you ever experienced disadvantage in the construction industry because of your gender? - Tell us more Negatives Massively – town planning and surveying – see my book ‘women in a traditional male profession’ I have been told that they ‘wanted a male architect’ so that they can be tough on contractors It’s a mix. People in shops and construction dismiss me, but as they get to know me and what I can do – they tend to be incredibly helpful When I did City & Guilds – one of 40 students – all got apprenticeships apart from me. When I finally got work I was treated badly by some of my colleagues and my employer would not make adjustments e.g. changing area, women’s toilets I was overlooked for promotion because I was on maternity leave
  19. 19. Survey Results Have you ever experienced disadvantage in the construction industry because of your gender? - Tell us more Negatives Declined ½ day release to attend University, although boys studying QS were given every Friday off. Was told not to be so soft when working up to due date of baby – women in Africa used to give birth and carry on working. When asked for flexibility after being given 6 wks maternity leave I was told – you will go on having babies I was totally discriminated against, especially with contractors, who constantly see any man as senior and give them extra networking opportunities – e.g. rugby and golf My general experience is of not being listened to or not being taken seriously in my role Site equipment for females not readily available My male classmates were being paid for work experience when I was not 10 years ago it took a while for employer to support flexible working – it is less of an issue now Applied for a job in 1978 as trainees QS. The man interviewing said he could not see me down a manhole – intimating it was because of my gender
  20. 20. Survey Results Have you ever experienced disadvantage in the construction industry because of your gender? - Tell us more Other Comments…… ‘Dealing with developers/contractors can be challenging and you have to be quite clear and supply evidence to back up whatever you say’ ‘In the process of getting a job in an architects’ office I was unsure at all as to whether I was disadvantaged. I would say that as the economy is so unstable – if there were disadvantages due to gender – females would really suffer ‘ (referred to article http://www.archdaily.com/214742/)
  21. 21. Have you had any negative experiences being a woman working in the construction industry? Yes No Don't Know Yes 51% No 42% Don’t know 7%
  22. 22. Negative experiences Struggle to get point of view across at Exec level - but don’t think it was deliberate
  23. 23. If treated differently, how often does this happen? All the time 9% Frequently 27% Sometimes 64% Do you feel you are treated the same as men at work? Yes No Don't Know Yes 59% No 30% Don’t know 11%
  24. 24. Do you feel you are treated the same as men at work? Positives Negatives Generally treated the same but .. …sometimes get asked to attend interviews more because I am a woman than my skills/job Basic premise that we are all equal but…. ….old boy network still exists and very apparent. This is more so getting the foot on the door than when in post Most of the time, however…. Have experienced instances at Board level being called ‘sweetie’ and there being an old boys club As a mature architect I am treated equally, but…. …as a younger architect this was not always so As soon as they realize I can do my job No, they are favoured Never My male colleague who was a level below me would not respond to my requests for assistance because he only takes orders from men
  25. 25. Do you feel you are treated the same as men at work? Positives Negatives At the moment yes as I have a female boss, but… …not in previous roles Most of the time in a local authority setting , but…. ….not always listened to in private sector meetings Not always worse , but different The old adage of ‘work like a dog, act like a man, dress like a goddess’ still holds tight Varies in different environments, but because females may offer an emotional judgment – may be at risk of being questioned positive/negative I have been in work situations where the key discussions and decisions (allegedly) have been taken in the men's toilets – put me at a disadvantage
  26. 26. In comparison with your male counterparts do you feel more, less or equally recognised? More 5% Less 30% Equally 65% Do you feel you are recognised for the good work you do? Yes No Don't Know Yes 83% No 13% Don’t know 4%
  27. 27. Do you think you are being paid, or have in the past been paid, differently to your male colleagues at the same level? Yes No Don't Know Yes 25% No 43% Don’t know 32%
  28. 28. Do you think you are being paid, or have in the past been paid differently to your male colleagues? Positives Negatives Not experienced different levels of pay Work in local government – low pay for all! Told I had reached my salary limit in my role when I qualified as a chartered accountant and they had no need for one, I moved into a different role and was replaced by someone 3 grades higher who was then funded to do the course I had completed (which was not needed) Worked mainly in public sector where pay scales are same for men and women Offered less and I accepted without negotiation. I believe women need to learn how to ask for more. Paid slightly more than a male colleague who was at the same level the previous year – due to general pay cuts At one stage had to fight to be on the same salary as a man entering the department doing equal role on the same grade – despite that I had been doing the role competently for 3 years Paid same as men – but in local government where such differences are less likely to happen I know I was paid significantly less than a male colleague for over 4 years. Even when I gained my RPTI accreditation and he didn’t, it took 2 years to get the same pay level, even though he is a grade below me
  29. 29. Are you provided with the right equipment (including the right size) to carry out your role including PPE if required? % No. Yes 66% 29 No 25% 11 Don’t know 9% 4
  30. 30. Have you ever felt isolated working in a predominantly male environment? % No. Yes 33% 15 No 52% 24 Don’t know 2% 4 Never worked in predominantly male environment 13% 6
  31. 31. Have you ever felt isolated working in a predominantly male environment? Positives Negatives I am happy to work in male environments Meetings with clients often dominated by men It has occasionally been beneficial to be a woman in a predominantly male environment – has resulted being part of some fascinating and cutting edge work, e.g. the department had a women’s group and worked on gender issues in relation to planning policies. The work of the group was valued and women felt supported Yes can sometimes be a lonely place – when only woman on Exec Team - but not a problem as I worked in an organisation where lots of other women at relatively senior level Although I do still prefer it to a predominantly female environment Sometimes on site I would be sidelined when a colleague was discussing something – obviously natural for the men to isolate me – had to be robust in making sure I was included in the discussions Difficult to put point across in male environment Working in metal fabrications – bit overwhelming having naked calendars on the wall
  32. 32. Negatives All the time I was always the only woman at committee meetings and the only woman except for the typists To begin with I was the only female – didn’t really have a problem with this in terms of how I worked (more the principle of it). I didn’t really experience sexism, although there were quite a lot of sexist jokes aimed at me from people in the office to annoy me (by people who were just trying to wind me up) however, it id d get a bit frustrating Have you ever felt isolated working in a predominantly male environment?
  33. 33. If you could change one thing in your working environment (office or on site) what would it be? Attitudes, beliefs & behaviours: • Men's attitudes to you as a senior woman in the organisation – think the reason you got there is nothing to do with skills • Assumption of many men that careers are there only to keep us busy until we have kids • Equality and the capacity of men to treat women in the same way they would with male professionals. Give women same credibility • That I would have the same place at the table as the others and deferred to as men do to each other • Better understanding and zero tolerance of sexual harassment • More respect from older male colleagues
  34. 34. If you could change one thing in your working environment (office or on site) what would it be? Flexible working: • For parents – especially men. Women's’ careers will continue to suffer if partners cannot work flexibly in their working hours • More flexible working arrangements, everyone talks the talk but in reality very old fashioned • More open minded approach to flexible working/job share in management and more role models for this • Less working hours – enough time for myself
  35. 35. If you could change one thing in your working environment (office or on site) what would it be? More women: • Would be nice to see more female project managers taking on bigger roles, but they seem a bit younger than the men so it could just be experience • More women at senior levels • Targets for one third women at every level • More diversity , more women colleagues • Creation of a female staff network • Encourage more women to join construction industry
  36. 36. Top Tips for survival in the construction industry 1. Stand by your ethos as a women and if you are treated negatively, make a stand. Help other women by acting as mentors or ask role models to be your mentor. 2. Work hard. Make decisions. Be confident. Be confident in your decisions. Be confident in your ability. Don’t try and be a man. Don’t try to fit in with the men to gain their respect. Gain their respect by working hard, making decisions and being confident. 3. Don't behave like you are in the minority. Act like an equal and you will be treated like one. Don't put up with sexist behaviour/comments. Don't make an issue of being a woman yourself. Just get on with it!! 4. Be yourself, work hard, don't expect to be treated differently and you won't be.
  37. 37. Top Tips... 5. Don't assume that you not getting something is a gender thing - there might be a good reason for it (however, sometimes best to check). Don't chop and change as to whether you want to be treated as 'one of the lads' or as 'the woman on the team'. This is unfair on colleagues and will not get you respect. If someone goes too far, tell them, but don't scream and shout about it. No matter how much you want to (or how much they deserve it). 6. Listen more than speak. Question if you don’t understand. Speak slowly to people. 7. Good heels. Good corset (make you stand taller and straighter). Work hard. Grow a thick skin. Don’t expect to be handed anything. Be prepared to fight for what you want. Be twice as qualified as the nearest man. And always smile. Remember you have something they don't :-)
  38. 38. Top Tips... 8. Stop acting like a victim and just do your job. 9. Be yourself and ensure that you are professional. Don't try to behave like one of the lads - it doesn't work. Communicate regularly about what you are doing and make sure your achievements are recognised. 10. Teamwork. Help each other out - strength comes via helping rather than competition. Visibility. Be visible, don't diminish your skills. Participate in activities and discussions in the workplace and the construction community. 11. Fight as hard as you can when you can , if have children be prepared to take a huge backward step.
  39. 39. Top tips... 12. Above all you need to be assertive, to weigh up all the options and decide what you think is the best course, and then to express this clearly and firmly. Being assertive does not come easily to some women, in which case assertiveness training could be useful. It can also be helpful to 'play act' in your imagination before an event that you consider might be stressful. For example, when acting as a group leader I was nervous about holding the weekly meeting with a dozen professional staff. So, before the meeting (in the Ladies' loo), I imagined what it would be like to be a confident group leader, and then acted within that persona. 13. Trust in your ability and ideas. 14. Stay confident and keep integrity. Network with females regularly. Employ and work in projects that involve females. Find inspiring female role models.
  40. 40. Top tips... 15. Be confident and know your stuff...but then one would anyway. 16. Work hard and don't settle for just being ok. Try to be better than everybody else. 17. Be confident and be clear and do not let others sideline you - even if you feel uncomfortable - make yourself heard. 18. Focus on your skills and what you can give to the job. 19. Look for empathetic male colleagues. Never compromise professionalism. Use your female empathy to create good client relationships. Seek female clients. Remember, half the world is made up of women, the female perspective is always relevant in any project. Don't wear skirts on site.
  41. 41. Top tips... 20. Women are supposed to have better communication skills so work on those negotiation and networking skills to improve your opportunities in the job market and attract new clients. You are not alone - there are other women out there in the construction industry - Women in Construction in the North West www.wicnet.org.uk and MWDG for starters. Also I think the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) does mentoring schemes. 21. Do not try to play the game. You don't have to become a 'bloke' to do this job. Be honest to yourself and your customers and stick with your morals. 22. Be sure of your facts. Trust your instincts. Always be aware of personal safety. 23. Talk to people, show you know what you're doing, ask for help but in an informed way.
  42. 42. Top tips... 24. Network with women in similar roles inside and outside work. Mentor younger women. Work out which men have wives who are partners, work with them, and avoid the others. Raise issues, even if it doesn't help you it may help women who follow you. Join a union. Join forces with all women in the workplace particularly high ranking women in more traditional roles, Office manager, bosses, PA who are often also isolated. 25. Just don't listen - believe you are good. 26. Don't take any bullshit. If there are comments, react once but then ignore. 27. Men expect women in senior construction roles to be very masculine. My tips are to be uber feminine in style and behaviour, stand out, be super confident, asking questions and clarifying details, be clear, concise and direct, don't be afraid not to laugh at poor jokes. If all that fails grow thick skin and persevere!!
  43. 43. Top tips... 28. Know your stuff. Dress smart but also comfortably as you don't know when you have to go out on site. It's more important to walk across a construction site than totter in heels and skirt in the office. Might be fun for the under 30'sbut if you want to be taken seriously be glam but not a bimbo. Don't forget men have sensitive egos so don't crash all over them as you might miss some key information, experience and they really won't want you around. Take the emotions outside of the workplace have some really great female pals you can unload with or take up yoga or both! 29. Do not suppress things, tell them what you think straightaway even if this risks your job, your life and your safety. 30. Being prepared - at the end of the day people will respect you for doing a good job.
  44. 44. Top tips... 31. Don't give people the chance to put you down. Do not feel the need to act like one of the boys. Just be yourself and prove yourself capable. Anyone who would treat you differently for being a woman is probably not worth working with anyway. 32. Work with schools and young women to de mystify manual trades and careers. Ensure apprenticeships are available to older age groups including women returning to work after having children Set up support networks with other women in trades even if far away Use your unions to fight for more inclusive workplaces. Make it clear to your employer what you are prepared to put up with and what you are not. 33. Not sure this is really relevant to the planning side of things - being a woman in planning is seen as normal and therefore you don’t need 'tips to survive‘.
  45. 45. Top tips... 34. Always remain calm. Remain professional and level headed - I find women in the workplace can often be at competition with one another rather than work successfully as part of a team. 35. Be yourself. Try not to take things personally (even if you do, don’t show that you do!) Grow a thick skin. Notwithstanding the above don’t be afraid to show your feminine side. Don’t take the job home with you - otherwise you end up in a vicious circle which you can’t get out from. 36. Stand up for yourself and believe, correctly, that you are as capable as a man at doing the job. 37. Don't be easily offended. Don't just align yourself with one sex. Maintain your 'femaleness‘. Don't be afraid to make your voice heard. Be distinctive. Develop a specialism. Dressing well will make you feel confident and happy!
  46. 46. Top tips... 38. That's such a patronising question. The more you conduct surveys like this, trying to highlight differences between men and women, the longer the issue will continue.
  47. 47. Have attitudes changed? Respondents views: Yes: 38% No: 13% Slowly/still more to do: 17% Don’t know/difficult to tell 29%
  48. 48. So what have we found? Small survey - but interesting results: • Numbers of women in the industry remain low • Women are still experiencing disadvantage • There are lots of examples of negative experiences • There are examples of positive experiences from women currently working, or who have previously worked in the industry • 59% of women feel they are treated equally and 83% recognised for doing a good job • Differences in pay exist, but there are many who do not know if there are any differences • PPE for women – needs to be improved – and not pink!!
  49. 49. So what have we found? • Negative assumptions about women’s ability to do the role still exist • Ability to work flexibly to account for family life could be improved • More women (and at a senior level) and promotion of women as role models in construction would be beneficial • Networking and support groups for women • You have to work hard to prove yourself • Attitudes and behaviours are changing, but slowly
  50. 50. So what have we found? There is still a long way to go
  51. 51. Thank you