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Awards, Diversity  |  21 April 2019


We’ve been thinking a lot about diversity in architecture & construction recently.

Particularly following Liz Diller’s win of the Jane Drew Women In Architecture Award 2019 — a lifetime achievement award for raising the profile of women in the industry. Diller is an architectural powerhouse & was the only architect of any gender to appear on Time magazine’s list of 100 most influential people of 2018.

Women are massively under represented in architecture & construction, in 2018 Dezeen’s research into the 100 biggest architecture firms in the world revealed that only one in 10 high-level staff were women. Only three of the 100 firms were headed by a woman. In addition in December they reported on Design Museum research which found that only one in 5 of all UK design jobs are filled by women — a situation the Design Museum labelled a “shocking gender imbalance”.

“The survey found that women make up just 22 per cent of the design workforce, even though seven out of 10 students taking design at A level are women.”

Dezeen, December 5th 2018 (link below).

Work is being done to tackle the thorny issue of a lack of diversity — the under representation of women being just the tip of the iceberg. RIBA teamed up with Dezeen to organise an event that focused on ‘bridging the gap’ between men and women in architecture (link below) & as you can read below there are new grassroots organisations making a difference too.

We are delighted that (former) president of the CIOB Rebecca Thompson — only the second women ever to have the role, has written a piece for us on Diversity in the Industry.

It is estimated that the construction industry will need to find almost 230,000 new recruits between 2016-2020 to avoid the rapidly worsening skills shortage driven heavily by the number of workers retiring and a lack of new entrants.

Crucial to meeting the skills shortage is for construction to access under-represented sectors. These include black and minority (BME) groups, disabled people and women.

The benefits of a diverse workforce are clear. It can mean new ways of thinking, working and growing business. The CIOB recognises these opportunities and is taking steps to improve diversity in construction; some of which are outlined below:


The image of the construction industry is a male, pale and dirty one.

Women make up only 11% of the construction workforce and just 1% of workers on site. Since 1990, the recorded percentage of women within the industry has remained relatively unchanged, varying between 10% and 13% of the workforce. Clearly the perceptions of the industry are not enticing women to take up a career in the industry and studies have shown that women in the sector witness a lack of equal opportunities, discrimination, marginalisation and workplace harassment.

It is not all bad news! Forecasts suggest that women are expected to fill a quarter of all construction jobs in the UK by 2020. And professional organisations like the CIOB are actively working with industry and government to ensure this happens. Although only around 7% (approximately 3,000 members) of the CIOB are female, this number has been slowly increasing in recent years and is a figure that is being targeted to increase. Some of the programmes CIOB are currently working on include:

In March 2015, we supported the Royal Institution of British Architects (RIBA) led #SeeMeJoinMe campaign to celebrate and support a more diverse and inclusive construction industry. Raising the profile of a career in construction to women who are looking for a new challenge. This was launched to coincide with International Women’s Day.

In partnership with ITN Productions we have produced a film that highlights not only the success stories but the barriers that exist in attracting women into construction, and highlight the wide array of careers (i.e. not just muddy boots) in the sector.

We support industry platforms like Women in Construction Awards and Chicks with Bricks that help promote female achievement in a male dominated industry. Our own Construction Manager of the Year Awards (CMYA) 2017 saw the first female winner.

Image credit: Holly Porter, Founder — Chicks with Bricks


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