Gearing up here to take part in this weekend’s Homebuilding and Renovating Show at Excel, with thousands of homeowners flooding through the doors to check out all things renovation. As part of the run up to the show, the organisers commissioned some research on one of my favourite topics – women in the building industry. As a so-named lady builder, I started a damp proofing business in the 90’s, then moving into renovating properties for sale and rent, running projects for clients, and most recently undertaking project management of 16 major renovations for a new 2019 BBC TV show.
Home renovator Jo Dyson and I will be hosting the Checkatrade Trade Secrets stage and might just have to conduct our own on-stage straw poll to test the results of the aforementioned research…
Apparently, the construction business is making headlines for having one of the lowest percentages of gender diversity. While this is still a male-dominated field of employment, 69 per cent of the UK industry agrees that it needs more tradeswomen to shift the balance.
38 per cent of builders who responded to the survey believe that women in the trade are discriminated against and 35 per cent declare that there is a gender bias present. According to the new research commissioned by The London Homebuilding & Renovating Show, 23 per cent of respondents perceive women as not being strong enough and 22 per cent agree that the current demand is not sufficient to encourage them to join.
At September’s Homebuilding And Renovating Show, Sian Astley, lady builder, TV presenter and owner of Moregeous blog, joined by renovation and interiors expert Jo Dyson, who’s also co-founder of Mae House Design, will ask builders Andy Stevens and Mike Edwards to share their trade secrets to find out what tradespeople wish their clients knew. This way, consumers can avoid the typical errors, oversights or unrealistic demands that homeowners make and complete their homes on time and on budget.
Sian Astley says, “Having worked in the building world for over 20yrs, I’ve never felt that I’m not qualified for the job because I’m a woman or that I’m not welcome in this industry. My knowledge soon shuts up anyone who questions that purely from a sexist perspective and it sometimes surprises male builders that I enjoy site banter and love rolling up my sleeves and getting stuck in. I build, I renovate, I design and I also manage over 15 rental properties so I know this field like the back of my hand. I’d encourage any woman to consider a career in the building and property field if they’re passionate about it.”
Jo Dyson adds, “Builders-in-hard-hats are just stereotypes which stand against the development of this profession. There’s an alarming low number of women in this industry and I welcome the day when we’ll have more female representation.”
Michael Holmes, property expert who will join them on stage alongside colleague Jason Orme, concludes, “The industry needs to attract new recruits and this can achieved by focusing on the untapped talent pools. Women can be as qualified as men to do this job and we’d like to encourage this positive perception through the talks we have available at our shows.”
I’ve got to agree with Jo & Michael that there could be SO many more women in this industry, even though I have seen more and more female contractors appearing over the years in Manchester, where I live. It often isn’t glamorous and it can be really REALLY hard work, but with increasing numbers of people staying put and renovating as opposed to moving, and a changing world with Brexit ahead of us and potentially less ‘cheap’ labour flooding into the country, surely the potential for making a good living as a good builder is hugely positive.
There are some property mucky jobs in the building world and there’s not many women who’d want to be a ground worker for example. But, there are plenty of career choices perfectly suited to a hard working woman who doesn’t mind getting her hands dirty. As Mr M well knows, it’s not the size of your hammer, but what you do with it that counts 😉
I love the banter and the fun that a building site creates, though they aren’t for the faint hearted and if you can’t take a ribbing, then it probably isn’t the job for you. Hopefully we’ll be bringing some of that fun to the stage tomorrow!!
If you fancy coming to join us, the show is taking place from 21-23 September at ExCeL, London. For more details, visit http://www.homebuildingshow.co.uk/london.