Women in construction

Information provided by The Office of National Statistics suggests that women make up only 11% of the construction workforce,  just 1% of on site workers and that the number of women working as roofers, bricklayers and glaziers is so low that it is unmeasurable.

These low figures are also reflected in the Union of Construction, Allied Trades and Technicians (UCATT) membership, where women construction workers make up only a small proportion of total membership.

Women in construction survey

The UCATT carried out a survey of women construction workers to find out more about the challenges they face and to raise awareness of the issues among its male membership. It found that:

  • More than half (51%) said they were treated worse at work simply because of their gender.
  • The top three problems were: a lack of promotion prospects; lower pay than their male colleagues; and feeling isolated.
  • Four in ten identified bulling and harassment by managers as a problem.
  • Almost three in ten were afraid to complain about poor treatment to their managers.
  • A quarter of women in the survey said they had to share toilet facilities with men.
  • Fifteen percent of women construction workers said that it was difficult to find personal protective equipment that fit properly.

Women in construction: the challenge ahead

While there are more women in work than ever before, accounting for just under half the workforce, progress has been painfully slow in construction.

  • Women are more likely to be union members than men. Density amongst women workers is currently 28% compared with 23% of men.
  • Office of National Statistics (ONS) figures shows that on average women in construction are paid 12% less than their male counterparts carrying out the same role. 
  • Research by unionlearn – the TUC’s learning and skills organisation – and the National Apprenticeship Service shows that while there has been a large increase in the number of women taking apprenticeships over the last ten years, women made up just 2% of all apprenticeship starts in construction. 

“There is no reason why the construction industry should be any different from other sectors in terms of equality and diversity. Women working in construction have an absolute right to be treated equally to their male colleagues and both unions and employers need to work far harder to ensure that occurs.” - UCATT General Secretary Steve Murphy