The 2016 report Empowering Productivity: Harnessing the Talents of Women in Financial Services (2016) identified that within the financial services sector, a largely pyramid model existed in relation to women working in the industry. Whilst the number of women entering the sector was essentially equivalent to men at 44% of the total number employed, the majority tended to be employed in the lower to mid tiers with low rates of progression leading to few women in senior and board level positions.

The relationship between women and the housebuilding (and more widely the construction) industry demonstrates arguably the reverse; an inverse pyramid. Initial attraction into the industry remains problematic with the number of females within site based and trade roles persisting at around 1% as reported by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Various reasons are often cited for this; lack of engagement specifically with females about construction related careers at school age, unconscious bias in hiring decisions and so on.  However, when looking at middle and senior manager roles, as well as more traditional office-based positions, the ONS reports that the number of females within the industry increases. Sales and Customer Service roles provide an almost equal gender split whereas at Management and Director level, 17% of positions are taken up by women. Could figures in these areas be greater due to the potentially more flexible nature of office-based roles which organisations are more accustomed to offering on an agile basis? Or is there greater recognition of the importance and benefit of transferrable skills meaning that females can be recruited from other industries and sectors with greater gender balance, therefore providing a wider talent pool to select from? Whilst recruiting from other industries has many benefits there remains an argument to develop talent from within, highlighting the need to attract women into all facets of the housebuilding industry to provide them with opportunities to develop and remain within the sector. Relying on sourcing talent from other industries for senior roles can prove risky when the industry is competing with other more externally attractive sectors. Research by the CITB found that those employed within the construction industry had a more positive view of the benefits of working in the sector than those from competitor sectors.