Tackling gender gap in construction vital in East of England

Efforts to attract more women into the construction sector must be ramped up in the East of England according to Wates Construction, one of the region’s leading voices in the built environment.

The fresh call to action follows data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS), which shows that women make up only 12.8% of the industry’s workforce, an industry average that Wates is making a business-wide effort to exceed.

Wates’ Site Surveyor, Anna-Louisa Yiannakas, is the latest voice to join the debate and encourage more women to consider a career in the construction industry.

Anna-Louisa joined Wates in 2014 following a placement year with the business alongside her studies for a degree in construction management and was recently shortlisted for the ‘Best Young Woman in Construction’ category for the national Women in Construction and Engineering (WICE) Awards.

Anna-Louisa comments: “I am a huge advocate of inspiring more women to join the industry. I think too many of my peers would overlook construction as being an industry that is just for men, when in reality the huge variety of roles makes it perfect for so many people, regardless of their gender.

“The gender gap is definitely getting better and efforts, like those of Wates, are helping to change some of the preconceptions about the industry but I hope that hearing from women like me, who work in the industry, that the pace of change will increase.”

Based from Wates’ Cambridge office, Anna-Louisa currently oversees the supply chain on a number of the contractor’s jobs in the region, a role that supports the delivery of projects and their impact on the local economy and job market.

Anna-Louisa continues: “My role is quite diverse; I get to spend time out on site, which comes with the huge benefit of seeing a project come to life and it’s so rewarding to know that I have been a part of making that happen. Alongside this, I’m passionate about using my career to be an ambassador for women in construction and Wates is very supportive of my ambitions.

“Since graduating I have been back to my university to talk at Women in the Built Environment events for undergraduates and I regularly support Wates’ school engagement activities in the region, including career fairs and construction workshops. I am also extremely proud to join other women in the industry to be shortlisted for the 2017 WICE awards, which is just the kind of celebration of industry diversity needed to make a difference.

“To anyone considering construction as a career choice, be them male or female, I would say if you have the drive and natural interest then a career in construction is for you. There are so many opportunities just waiting to be seized. Building a career in construction is not about being a man or a woman, it’s about the skills you have and if more females chose to bring their skills to this fantastic industry, I know from experience they would have an extremely rewarding career ahead of them.”