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International Women’s Day 2020: Women in Construction

Typically one of the more ‘male-dominated’ professions, construction has historically been seen as a profession that was ‘not suitable’ for a woman.

Thankfully, times are changing, and while there is still a male-bias in the sector (as evidenced by an average 5.6% gender pay gap), more women are now looking to enter construction, seeing it as a viable career.

In celebration of International Women’s Day on March 8th, work attire company, Dickies Workwear has conducted a survey to find which regions are the best for women looking to enter the construction industry.

Please see below for the results of their findings as well as an interview with the Director of housebuilder Gipping Homes, Heather Blemmings.

(3) Scotland – Ranking in the top 5 for 3 out of the 4 trades, Scotland has a relatively high average salary (£42,500) and the second-highest number of construction businesses (1,800).

(2) West Midlands – Coming in second, the West Midlands has 832 registered businesses, with an average of 1,772 job vacancies available. Even though the average house price was quite high (£231,893), the average cost of living was quite low, at £425.90.

(1) North East – Topping the list as the best location, weekly pay was the second-highest (£1,081), the average weekly cost of living was the lowest, (£408.30), and the average price of a house was £151,206.

Heather Belmings, Director at Gipping Homes


Interview with Heather Belmings (pictured right):


Tell us about your role in the trade industry?
I began as a bench joiner in 1986. I was then asked by a friend to launch a builder merchant in 1989 and had this role for 12 years, during which time I also ran a Brick Remedial Company offering brick tinting and cleaning to brick manufacturers and developers.

I travelled all over the country surveying sites and pricing work for my gangs of men to undertake. Today I act as a buyer and handle the property sales for Gipping Homes.


How did you get into the industry, and what made you interested in this profession?
I joined the industry by accident really – I had sold a catering company and was looking for something to do, and the bench joinery opportunity came up, so I took it on.

I have always been in business for myself and enjoy being my own boss. I am very self-motivated and enjoy working in a male environment. Therefore going into the building trade with my husband seemed a natural step, and after over 20 years, I am still in the industry.


What advice do you have for other women keen to get into construction/trade?
The best advice I can give is [to] talk to someone involved and come to [the] site to take a look, the building industry is a welcoming environment. Decide if you want to work for a big multi-national and travel the world, or a smaller company where you can experience so many aspects of the job.

Don’t listen to the careers advisers who will tell girls to be hairdresser if they don’t get their grades. Seek out an apprenticeship in the construction industry as we are so desperately short of skilled staff in all areas and this would be a good area to have a career in.


Editors Note: The above interview can be read in full on Dickies website.

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