Women in Construction – Barriers & Importance of Gender Inclusiveness

A common question in this industry is why are there so few women in construction in Ireland?

  • Why should women work in construction?
  • What are the perceived barriers for women in construction?
  • What is the #BuildingEquality Campaign?

With a smaller pool of young people entering skilled trades, Irish Construction needs to employ more women in construction if the industry is to have a sustainable future.

Jean Winters, Director of Industrial Relations with CIF, said that increasing the number of women in construction will produce significant increases in terms of output and productivity.

This is ever more important as the latest SCSI/PwC Construction Market Monitor Report 2018 states “skill shortages remain a serious challenge for Ireland’s construction sector”.

Without female talent, any effort to deliver critical Governmental housing and infrastructure strategies will most likely fall short.

Read: Thinking of coming (home) to Ireland to work in the Construction Industry?

The CSO estimates that women in construction-related jobs sectors only account for 5.5% of the workforce, with the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) survey indicating that only one in 10 employees in their organisation is female.

The Importance of women in construction:

Construction is a universal language of global commerce, where you are able to obtain and secure work around the world. Within the construction industry itself, the variety of interesting career paths are endless, in addition to on-site trades.

The skilled trades require agility, endurance, balance and coordination – not a specific gender.

More and more women are entering trades and proving themselves to be productive, capable and reliable workers.

What are the perceived barriers for women in construction?

From the literature survey the major barriers for women in construction have been identified as:

  • Previous perceptions or stereotype that construction is male dominated and women have no place in this sector.

With many using the symbol of ‘builders bum’ to represent the construction industry; it is thought to have a ‘macho image’ and a male-dominated organisational culture; exposing women to a hostile environment and potential discrimination.

A gender-inclusive environment is required to entice women in construction.

  • Women are often deterred or laughed at during education from considering a career in construction or engineering.

It is significantly important for the construction industry to concentrate on gender inclusiveness by participating in outreach programmes to schools across Ireland.

Educating career guidance teachers and students about the range of career opportunities available to both men and women.

  • Perception that you require significant physical strength in this industry.

Many employers consider women unsuitable for some traditionally male dominated jobs, such as in the manual trades where workers need a reasonable level of strength and fitness, with some job requiring above average upper body strength for lifting and heavy operations (Greckol, 1987)

  • Inflexible working practices / Family commitments

As in most industries, the conflict between work-family obligations can deter women. Within the construction industry, male values are the ‘norm’ such as long working hours, competition, full-time working which could be seen as a barrier or preventer for women. Going forward, the construction industry needs to be society friendly with work life balance better for all, both men and women.

Source:  http://usir.salford.ac.uk/9877/ Amaratunga, RDG, Haigh, RP, Shanmugam, M, Lee, A and Elvitigalage Dona, NG (2006)

#BuildingEquality Campaign:

The Building Equality Campaign is aimed at increasing the number of women working in construction. This is a key objective for the CIF.

The campaign encourages women to become role models for girls and women considering a career in construction.  By sharing their stories women are highlighting their importance of women in construction.

For an insight into last years CIF Digital Construction Summit click here

The sole reason for this campaign is to improve the gender balance of the sector and reduce the perceived barriers for women entering and working in the construction industry.

In today’s construction industry, men and women work alongside each other as respected members of the same teams and earn the same rates. If you’re still skeptical, check out the link below of females talking about their experiences and the value of women in the construction industry (CIF, 2017).


Construction and Engineering is an exciting sector for the permanent and temp recruitment division at Servisource Recruitment, due to client demand and skill shortages in sourcing suitable candidates to match specific roles.

Below are some of the professions we work with (not limited to):

  • Quantity Surveyors
  • Site Engineers
  • Project Managers
  • Contracts Managers
  • Planners
  • Building Services Engineers & MEP Coordinators
  • Site Managers/Foremen

Click here to view all available jobs in Construction and Engineering.

If you would like to have a conversation about opportunities in the construction sector – please email Amy on abradley@recruitisland.ie or Joe on joe.kenny@servisource.ie

Article Written By:
Donna Farrell