Redressing the gender imbalance within the construction industry

Nicola Baxter, from Bellshill, is doing her part to redress the gender imbalance in the conctrustion industry as assistant site manager at Lauder Gardens development in Strathaven
Nicola Baxter, from Bellshill, is doing her part to redress the gender imbalance in the conctrustion industry as assistant site manager at Lauder Gardens development in Strathaven

This year, International Women’s Day, explores the theme of #Balance for Better.

The focus for this is on building a gender balanced world, and highlighting that everyone has a part to play in this – “noticing the absence and celebrating its presence.”

The UK construction industry lags behind the rest of Europe, with figures released last year showing that less than one per cent of its 800,000 construction and building trades workers are women, and even when you add architects, planners and surveyors it only rises to 18 per cent.

To marking International Women’s Day, Barratt Homes is celebrating women in construction and encouraging the young, female, workforce of tomorrow not to rule out the industry and the breadth of careers it offers.

It is committed to encouraging women to join, and remain in the industry through its leadership programme, Catalyst, and family friendly working policies.

Nicola Baxter from Bellshill, who is an assistant site manager at the Lauder Gardens development in Strathaven, has been with Barratt Homes for over five years.

Nicola started her career in construction as a graduate having completed an honours degree in Property Management and Valuation from Glasgow Caledonian University.

She said: “I graduated from Glasgow Caledonian University and wasn’t entirely sure where my career was headed. I had always been interested in property – hence my degree choice – but the actual building of homes was never something I had considered to be interesting, or as a profession for me.

“I joined Barratt Homes as a graduate where I got to spend a set period of time with each department. My last rotation was Construction – where I was supposed to spend just four weeks – but I loved it and four weeks turned into five, that turned into six and eventually I found myself signing a contract as a trainee assistant site manager.”

“If you’d told me that I would be coming into work on a building site every day when I was younger I would have laughed, but this is absolutely the right career choice for me.

“No two days are the same and that’s one of the things I love about this job. I can go from liaising with our commercial team on the arrival of materials, to speaking with marketing and sales about show home launches or customer move-ins to tool box talks and health and safety briefings on site in the mornings.

“The industry as a whole is much more accepting of women in authoritative on-site roles than I had expected. The site team are great, more often than not its customers that are shocked that I’m a woman and an assistant site manager.

“Having women in a variety of sectors is really important in balancing the workforce and making our voices heard.

“I would encourage any young women, or man, to investigate the construction sector as a career path and don’t write it off because you think it’s all site-based. There are lots of career opportunities both on and off site.

“And, if I can offer one piece of advice, it would be to work hard, be true to yourself and don’t ever let someone tell you that you can’t do it, because you can!”