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Celebrating CICES members: Women in Construction Week

It’s Women in Construction Week (3-9 March), which coincides with International Women’s Day on Friday (8 March).

So to mark the occasion, we want to start by focussing on some women in construction that are also CICES members.

Your current CICES senior vice president, Alison Watson MBE, founded ‘Class of your own’, an organisation that created the ‘Design Engineer Construct!’ learning programme.

Class of your own has helped facilitate the education and empowerment of hundreds of young people that have gone on to careers in construction or related industries.    

Following Alison in the CICES presidential chain is Alex Pearsall, currently an associate director with global consultancy business, Turner & Townsend.

Alex is set to be the youngest ever CICES president in 2025-26 and was also instrumental in the establishment of our ‘Tomorrow’s Leaders Committee’. 

Joining these two inspiring women and many others that sit on our various regional and special committees are hundreds of female CICES members.

Responding to a request last month, several of you were kind enough to send photos of you at work:

  • On site
  • In the office
  • Wearing PPE
  • Using precision equipment
  • Representing leading national and international organisations

In short, helping to deliver construction and infrastructure projects throughout the UK and the world.

And these images demonstrate that there really is no such thing as a typical ‘woman in construction’, in terms of age, location or type of role.

These are the examples we’re proud to share during Women in Construction Week - but there is still so much work to be done throughout the year.

More women in construction needed

CICES president Batsetswe Motsumi comments: 

‘This week, the institution and our colleagues must take the opportunity to acknowledge the contribution that women make in the industry - and also celebrate the incremental progress made in advancing equity.

‘Construction faces a considerable skills shortage - the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) reports that women represent only 15 percent of the workforce, while Women Into Science and Enginerring (WISE) research shows that female employees account for 12.9 percent of the total workforce in engineering professions.

‘And according to the Infrastructure and Projects Authority there is £700 - £775bn of planned and projected expected investment over the next 10 years.

An increasing number of women contributing in our sector would go a long way to addressing the skills shortage.'

Removing barriers

While the skills gap and the statistics highlighted show there is a huge need for more women to enter the construction sector, it isn’t likely to be a straightforward solution.

Batsetwse Motsumi continues:

‘In my experience, women occupying decision making positions improves the quality of business choices and outcomes. 

‘However, to achieve the benefits of this diversity and increase their participation in the industry, we first need to deal with the barriers to entry and to staying in the industry that are faced by women.

‘There is a lot to be done to create an equitable space for women in construction. 

‘It is often overlooked that in order to make transformative progress, there needs to be an embedded culture of women supporting women, advocacy and highlighting areas of focus that we need to get right to make our industry more accommodating.

‘And finally, it is important that we highlight success stories, so people can see examples of women in positions of authority inspiring others and being the voices that speak for other women in a collaborative way.'

If you’d like to learn more about, or contribute to, the CICES Women’s Network, please get in touch.

Published: 04 March 2024