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Women shun construction over inequality

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FEARS ABOUT unequal pay and career opportunities are still deterring women from pursuing careers in construction, according to research carried out by consultant Atkins as part of the NCE backed Inspire awards.

But the research also shows that nine out of 10 people think that women should be more involved in planning and building towns and cities.

More than 3,700 people responded to the survey that was carried out ahead of the Atkins Inspire awards event in London tomorrow. The event celebrates the role of women in the built environment and is organised by NCE in association by with business support charity Everywoman.

Overall, men and women of all ages and from all geographical locations said that if more women were involved in building our towns and cities they would be more 'userfriendly, practical and sustainable/green and better places to work in'. The research also claims that projects could become more cost-effective.

But a break down of the gures reveals a gender divide over whether women would make future towns and cities more user-friendly and practical. Two-thirds of the female respondents said they would, but 40% of male respondents disagreed on the user-friendly question and 28% of men did not believe women would make future cities more practical.

The few women that have made it into the built environment professions still feel they are not treated the same as their male colleagues. Nearly 70% of the 183 female respondents working in architecture, engineering and construction said there was still gender inequality in their work place.

To make matters worse, 61.2% of the 348 male respondents working in the three built environment professions surveyed did not even recognise gender inequality as a problem.

The industry did not see itself as being especially maledominated, with only 39% of respondents saying that it was, and only 26% saying there was a shortage of female role models.

Most people also felt that the industry amply rewarded women ancially for their success, with only one in four respondents disagreeing. Only 24% of respondents felt that there was a pay gap between people of the opposite sex working in the same jobs and only 22% felt that women failed to achieve senior management positions. But among women working in the built environment professions, more than 50% believed this.

Sixty per cent of all respondents agree there is a 'glass ceiling' limiting the career progression of women in construction. Of these 51% were men and 78% were women.

In the built environment just over 90% of women and just under 60% of men perceived a glass ceiling.

The statistics are damning, yet the survey also shows that skills associated with women would clearly be very useful for built environment projects such as big regeneration schemes where collaboration and good communication is seen as key.

According to the survey, traits associated with women in business are an ability to multi-task, good communication skills, reliability and an ability to resolve conicts.

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