The Fawcett Society’s recently published report: A House for Everyone, investigating the experiences of women MP’s in Parliament highlighted the slow progress to achieving gender equality as well as identifying the potential cultural issues of working in a male dominated environment which could negatively impact on both entry to the profession and longer term retention. Similarly, to the construction industry, under-representation of women can inadvertently create a culture which feels less inclusive for women thus perpetuating the cycle of attraction and retention issues of females into under-represented areas.

The report identifies the make up of women within parliament at 35%, which is significantly higher than female workforce within the construction industry and cites that despite being over 100 years since the first woman was elected to the House of Commons, the rate of change is moving at a “glacial” pace.

The CITB, in their Rethinking Recruitment report from January 2022 sought the opinions of both individuals working within the industry as well as externally to further understand the potential factors which might prevent individuals from entering the industry or encourage them to leave it. This report found that when questioned about the attractiveness of the construction industry, being too male-dominated was cited as a significant potential deterrent to entering. This could be viewed as concern over lack of inclusivity and struggling to fit in. Similarly, the research from The Fawcett Society found that only 37% of female MP’s agreed with the statement that the culture within Parliament is “inclusive for people like me”.

Research from Inspiring 5050 found that the issue of resilience is often identified as an important characteristic for those wanting to enter the house-building industry particularly in a site-based role. Despite being unrelated to an individual’s capability to carry out a role, this is seen as a key requirement indicating the potential struggles to fit into working on sites. Similarly, The Fawcett Society found some respondents felt the easiest way to get by is to blend in and not cause issues, highlighting that in some areas women may feel unable to call out concerns or problems in their working environment with these types of negative experiences becoming potentially contributory factors to poor retention.

The potential issues which can affect under-represented groups will only reduce when organisational and societal cultures adapt to become more inclusive and less exclusive. Failure to adapt will continue to stall the rate of progression to achieve greater balance as evidenced by both The Fawcett Society and CITB reports.