Q1 2020

22 | Q1 2020 • 72% of women in construction have experienced gender discrimination in the workplace • 41% say they have received inappropriate comments / behaviour from male colleagues • 45% of women who have been sexually harassed say it has made an impact on their career More than two thirds of women in construction (72%) say they have experienced gender discrimination in the workplace – while 9 in 20 of the women say sexual harassment had made an impact on their career, a new report from specialist construction recruiter Randstad reveals. According to a poll of 4,200 construction workers in the UK, two in every five (41%) women in construction said they had been on the receiving end of inappropriate comments or behaviour from a male colleague. Worryingly, this was significantly higher than when similar research was carried out two years ago when 28% of women said they had experienced gender discrimination in the workplace in the form of inappropriate comments or behaviour from male colleagues. We Need To Brick Up Sexism Say Women In Construction Owen Goodhead, managing director of Randstad Construction Property & Engineering, said: “Worryingly, more women are reporting problems with inappropriate comments or behaviour from male colleagues than two years ago. Hopefully, this does not reflect a huge uptick in sexism - we think it’s more likely that the #MeToo movement has left women in construction empowered and less likely to accept this sort of behaviour as ‘banter’.” Women also reported that the factor that held them back in their career was not sexual harassment but the need to maintain a work-life balance – 50% said that it had had “a lot” or “some” impact on their career. TABLE 1: Have you experienced these forms of gender discrimination in the workplace? TABLE 2: Rank these factors on how much impact (“a lot” / some”) they had on your career? Owen Goodhead said: “Women in the industry are still encountering an unconscious but pervasive gender bias that is holding them back. While misogyny and outright sexism are a problem, there are also less obviously malevolent factors at play, too – male dominated culture and a lack of female role models may be less obnoxious than downright discrimination and sexual harassment but are still pushing women out of the industry. “There is still progress to be made. Almost half of women in construction still feel marginalised at work because of their gender. Gender equality should be the absolute norm in the workplace and diversity should be a watchword in construction – not for its own sake, but because of the excellence that a diverse range of talents bring to the industry. We need to brick-up sexism.” The prevalence of gender discrimination is having a detrimental effect on the industry. When asked why women leave construction, almost half (47%) blamed “male dominated culture” while 38% held the female role models in senior positions responsible. A further 35% pointed the finger at a lack of flexible hours and another third (33%) said stress was the reason women left the industry. 30% blamed outright discrimination. TABLE 3: Why do women leave construction? CHANGE ON THE HORIZON There are signs things are changing. Women over 65 were much more likely to report that sexual harassment had had a significant impact on their career (14%) than their younger colleagues (8%). And the findings revealed 8% of men reported having been on the receiving end of inappropriate comments or behaviour from their female colleagues – suggesting this behaviour is not solely aimed at women. Sarah Sidey, head of strategic accounts at Randstad Property, Construction & Engineering said: “There are some encouraging signs here. Eighteen Types of gender discrimination experienced by women in construction (%) Comments/inappropriate behaviour from male colleagues 41% Being excluded from male conversations or social events 26% Being offered a less important role 23% Being passed over for a promotion 21% Being passed over for a particular projects/work 19% Being made redundant 13% Comments/inappropriate behaviour from female colleagues 9% I have not experienced gender discrimination in the workplace 28% Factor (%) Lack of work-life balance 50% Lack of mentors 50% A lack of female role models 49% Lack of training opportunities 47% Lack of networking opportunities 45% Sexual haressment 26% Why do women leave constuction? (%) Male dominated culture 47% Too few senior female role models 38% Lack of flexible hours 35% Stress 33% Long working hours 32% High costs of childcare 32% Discrimination 30% Unconscious bias 25% Poor maternity rights/pay 22% Working away from home too often 19%