When I first started my role as Marketing Manager for Farsight, I didn’t have a great deal of construction industry knowledge. I was eager to learn how everything worked and what people did.
My boss, Tom, said it would be a good idea to visit a few sites, see people in action and get a feel for the industry. One of our experienced consultants, Heather, took me out for the day and I got to meet a variety of construction workers; Labourers, Site Managers and everything in between. I really learnt a lot and it was very different from what I expected.
However, one thing I learnt surprised me. I didn’t see a single female construction worker on any of the sites we visited. Granted, the sites we visited were nearby our office, in Derby and Leicester, so not necessarily a reliable representation all of construction sites – but zero is a tough number to dispute, so I had to ask myself…
Where are all the women in construction?
When we were back in the office I approached our Sales Manager, Abby, and asked her if we had any women on our books – and luckily, she did. One women, just one. Her name is Jenna.
I was eager to learn more about the woman who was our only female candidate on our books and find out more about her perspective as a female in such a male dominated work place. I contacted Jenna and she kindly agreed to speak to me and answer a few burning questions. Jenna is an amazing 31-year-old labourer based in Derby.
What made you go into construction in the first place?
“I fell into it by accident. I’ve always been a grafter and a friend of the family was struggling to get a labourer in on his site – so I offered myself up and thought I’d give it a go! I found I really enjoyed it so just carried on down that path.”
Were you put off by how male dominated the construction industry is?
“I never once thought, ‘Oh I can’t do that, because it’s a male role.’ I really love what I do, and I’m very good at it. If anything, there are advantages to being a woman in this kind of work, I’m efficient, I pay more attention to the details and can be very particular that everything is perfect. I think it’s useful to have a man and woman’s perspective on site.”
What would you say to other women thinking of working in construction?
“Go for it! If it’s something you’re interested in, just do it. Don’t worry about gender, I’ve mostly had a very positive experience from working on sites. The men know if I’ve been hired, it’s because I can do the job. There is also lots of money to be made in this industry, it’s worth some serious thought.”
You’ve said how much you enjoy it and that you’ve had mostly positive experiences, but have there been any down sides?
“I think from all the time I’ve been doing this I’ve only ever had one negative comment about being a woman on site, but I soon proved them wrong. I’m also quite sure I don’t get as many jobs as I should, because I’m a woman. Companies have a lot to answer for, they need to change their attitude towards women working in construction. One manager once offered me an interview because he was “curious” – I got the job because I proved to him how valuable I was, but he later admitted he almost didn’t call at all because I was female, it’s hugely frustrating.”
So what does the future hold for you?
“I love labouring and grafting but I don’t want to be a labourer forever. I do want to stay working in construction though, and ideally move in to site / project management.”
It was great having the chance to speak to Jenna, and personally I would love to see more quality female candidates in the field – it is the 21st century after all...
If you’re looking for a labourer in Derby and you’d like to give Jenna a try, give us a call on 01332 370 300 and we’ll make it happen.
Equally, if you’re a reliable woman with construction experience and a CSCS card then give us a call and we’ll find you work, we’d love to have you aboard!
Pip Gorringe, Marketing Manager
Posted 23rd September 2016