08 March 2018

Press for Progress this International Women’s Day!

“Where are all the women?” – a question often associated with the construction industry. By Hannah Simpson, Assistant Engineer at GRAHAM Construction

An industry where the majority of the employees are male and females were previously put off even considering the role, discouraged from choosing STEM subjects or not given the right information about roles within the sector.

While we are beginning to see some shifts with a big push for young girls to consider industries similar to our own, we still have a long way to go in moving away from the male dominated persona the construction sector carries and creating one that is open to all.

Last year’s theme for International Women’s Day was #BeBoldforChange and while many people all over the world got involved and took steps to improve the situation, this year’s #PressforProgress is set to take this further.

I was always set on becoming a vet and hadn’t even considered the construction industry until it was time to apply for university and my strong subjects led me in the direction of civil engineering. The fact that the industry was never an option for me is, in itself, a notable indication that I hadn’t always been encouraged into these types of jobs even though this is where my skills lie.

This isn’t a failing or mistake of one person but more a view we take as a society that certain jobs are matched to one gender.

When I got to university, it was then that I realised the noticeable gender split. From a class of 70 in my undergraduate degree, there were eight female students, with five in my 15-strong masters class. Something that has carried with me throughout my career.

I’m the only female on site where I am currently working at Faslane as an Assistant Engineer, something both me and the team are keen to change…for the better!

Being the only female can be a daunting prospect for some women but I’ve found my team to be extremely welcoming, respectful and cautious of making the atmosphere one that I am comfortable to work in.

When people ask me why young girls should be thinking about a career within the industry my answer is that I absolutely love my job; every day is different and every day is a school day – I know this sounds like a cliché but it’s the experience I have had.
I’ve never felt disadvantaged to be a female in construction, I’ve been given the same opportunities and, if anything, it gives me an extra push to show that women can do these jobs.

It’s important to me that we show that these roles are for both genders and that we aren’t telling young girls to stay clear and think of another career that is more “suited” to their gender.

You don’t have to want to build a building to work in construction – there’s a number of different roles that are needed during any project. I work with a number of women throughout the company that are essential to the build while they might not work directly on site.

You might not think you have a direct input but the variety of skills required means that there are numerous ways to get involved.

Let’s #PressforProgress and use our own experiences, knowledge and voices to open up doors that were once closed. Let’s teach young people that construction is an industry with excellent opportunities through a great variety of roles that can make for an interesting and fun career.

I am proud to be a woman in construction and consider myself lucky to have a job that I love – and it’s even better when you get to beat the boys!