In this series we will be shining a spotlight on some of the inspiring women who are breaking down barriers, leading by example, and paving the way for the future of women in the construction industry. There are so many incredible women that are changing the world of construction, and we wish we could shout about them all - this list rounds up just a few of our top picks of women in construction.
When you think of an industry dominated by men, construction might be one of the first that comes to mind. Did you know that of all the people working in construction, women comprise only 10.9% of the workforce?
Even smaller is the number of women on the front lines of a job site, with only 1 in every 100 employees in the field. Considering that women make up 47% of all employed individuals, this means that the construction industry is only benefitting from about 1.25% of women in the workforce - and there are a number of unfortunate reasons for this.
There are several factors that explain this enormous gender gap, including unconscious gender bias, a lack of adequate training and negative perceptions of women working in construction. Despite these barriers, women continue to build their path in the industry. According to Randstad, women in construction management roles increased by 9% in the UK between 2018 and 2020 - showing improvement. Yet there is still far more that could be done.
This empoWOMENt series aims to spread awareness about the amazing women who are working hard to break these statistics in the construction industry. We will be shining a light on these women, in hopes to give them the recognition they deserve and inspiring the next generation of businesswomen.
Carol Massay - Head of Construction at The Access Group
Carol Massay is Head of Construction at The Access Group and our last year’s Construction Businesswoman of the Year Award.
As Head of Construction at The Access Group, Carol is helping construction businesses to transform and embrace technology. With a career expanding over 30 years working closely within the construction industry and first-hand experience working within some of the UK’s largest contractors, from house building to civil engineering. Carol’s mission is to continue to promote the construction sector as a great place to expand your career and provide world-class technology to attract skills from other walks of life to the sector.
Jane Briginshaw - Director of Design England
Jane Briginshaw is Director of Design England, delivering inclusive places, housing and growth through people-centred design.
Specialising in design policy development, building standards in government departments and government agencies, and championing quality and sustainability in housing, schools and planning. Experienced committee community leader and campaigner Jane is underpinned by a suite of skills incorporating high-level communications, strategic thinking, leadership and advocacy. Major pieces of work include five years advising schools ministers on Building Schools for the Future in the government Department for Children, Schools and Families; five years leading design and sustainability strategy and research for the government housing and land agency the Homes and much more - she is truly shaping the future of the construction industry.
Julia Barrett - Chief Sustainability Officer at Willmott Dixon
As the Chief Sustainability Officer, Julia leads on realising Willmott Dixon’s ‘purpose beyond profit’ through the Group’s sustainability strategy, Now or Never.
Julia is passionate about creating added value for customers by delivering brilliant buildings that are net-zero by design, future-climate ready and optimise user health and wellbeing. She encourages opportunities for learning with and from supply chain partners as the business aims to deliver projects with net-zero embodied carbon by 2040 - and under her leadership Willmott Dixon has received three Queen’s Awards for Enterprise, acknowledging their efforts towards sustainability.
Julia is also committed to encouraging a wider diversity of people to seek a career in the construction sector; she chairs the company’s Gender Diversity Steering Group and is an Ambassador for Construction News’ Inspire Me Campaign.
Kath Moore MBE - Managing Director of Women Into Construction
Kath entered the construction industry as a trainee carpenter at the age of 19 and worked on-site for several years on both new-build and renovation projects. She then set up and ran her own carpentry and joinery business and went on to teach carpentry in further education. Kath is passionate about encouraging and supporting women who wish to work in construction and feels that they have the potential to make a very positive contribution to this interesting and exciting industry - and she is doing so with her work for Women into Construction.
Women into Construction is an independent not-for-profit organisation that promotes gender equality in construction.
They provide bespoke support to women wishing to work in the construction industry and assist contractors to recruit highly motivated, trained women, helping to reduce skills gaps and create a more gender-equal workforce.
In 2018 Kath received an MBE for her services and continued commitment to bettering the construction industry for women.
Kelly Vincent - Electrician & founder of Kelly Electrics
Kelly Vincent left school at 18 and worked in an administrative role for the NHS, where she worked for 10 years. Fascinated by her father’s job as a Building Contractor and wanting to do something practical, Vincent decided to look for potential job opportunities in the construction industry. Vincent gained her City & Guilds electrical qualifications, trained alongside senior electricians at a company near where she lived and quickly thereafter set up her own business, Kelly Electrics.
“I’m passionate about getting more women involved in trade professions. I’ve found it to be an incredibly rewarding career in which I’ve been able to meet so many people who I’ve been able to help. Even a simple job, like installing a chandelier can make someone’s day because it may be something that’s been sitting in their living room for months and haven’t had a chance to put up. That’s the reason I decided to start my business and hire other female electricians; I want to help them have as fulfilling a career as I have in this trade,” says Kelly.
Vincent is proof that it’s never too late to challenge yourself, and continues to inspire other women to enter the sector by employing fellow female electricians. Her work has not gone unrecognised and has been nominated for a number of Construction Awards.
Rebecca Rickwood - Founder of Gement
Rebecca Rickwood is the founder of Gement; a company that is revolutionising the construction industry through the manufacture of geopolymer cement - which is stronger, safer, and greener than traditional cement - and by raising awareness about the endless career paths and opportunities across the industry that have been traditionally overlooked.
Gement was born out of frustration and a lack of awareness of all the opportunities the industry has to offer. So by launching Gement, Rebecca’s aim was - and still is - to raise awareness to people with all levels of experience including students, graduates, and experienced professionals. They look to broaden the horizons of those who may not initially think construction is the right ‘fit’ for them!
Roma Agrawal MBE - Structural Engineer, Author & Broadcaster
Roma Agrawal MBE is an award-winning structural engineer, author and broadcaster. From footbridges and sculptures, to train stations and skyscrapers – including The Shard – she has left an indelible mark on London’s landscape.
As an engineering storyteller, she presents documentaries, hosts the podcast Building Stories, and is now excited to be writing her third book about engineering, Nuts & Bolts, which will be out in 2023.
Outside of her work commitments, she is a tireless promoter of engineering and technical careers to young people, particularly under-represented groups such as women. She engages about these topics with Institutions and the government to help them understand and develop an effective way forward. Over the last 10 years, she has spoken to thousands of people at hundreds of schools, universities and organisations across the country and abroad - working hard to promote diversity in the construction industry.
Roni Savage - Environmental Engineer and Managing Director of Jomas Associates
Roni Savage launched her construction company, Jomas Associates, in 2009. She is an Environmental Engineer who gained her BEng in Engineering Geology and Geotechnics at the University of Portsmouth and her MSc in Environmental Management at the University of Exeter. Savage also took part in the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Programme at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford, and has seen great success in recent years.
Prior to setting up her own company, Savage worked for engineering consultancies and was involved in many projects across the UK, including the widening of roads such as the A406 and M25. She now works with land developers, assessing ground conditions and remediating land contamination, allowing reclamation of brownfield or derelict land.
Savage is passionate about diversity and inclusion, encouraging others to explore construction jobs for women. In addition, she is a multi-award winner and in 2020 alone she was named Black British Businessperson of the Year, the Precious Awards Entrepreneur of the Year and awarded the Best Business Women in STEM Award.
Tina Patel - Co-Founder & Director of Formed Architects & Designers UK
Tina Patel, Principal Architect and Co-Founder of Formed Architects has been adding value to property developers in the commercial sector and helping them achieve their objectives since 2012. In that time, her company has designed more than 130 development projects helping maximise the potential of commercial properties in a considered and bespoke way.
Tina is committed to promoting diversity in architecture and is a STEM Ambassador and has previously worked with Fluid Diversity to encourage young people of ethnic backgrounds to pursue careers in construction.
Tina was also a finalist for the Construction Businesswoman of the Year Award at the 2021 Great British Businesswomen Awards.
Priya Rawal - Founder & CEO of The Luxury Property Forum
Priya Rawal is the founder and CEO of The Luxury Property Forum, Construction Associate at CMS UK and Co-host of The Real Rendezvous podcast.
The Luxury Property Forum is the official forum for the luxury property sector, bringing together a carefully curated network of disciplines, from across the development value chain all specialising in luxury real estate and construction. They facilitate the advancement and continuous growth of the luxury property industry, through developing strong business collaborations and cultivating growth opportunities as well as sharing knowledge, experience and contacts.
Priya is on a mission to make the construction industry a community that can grow in diversity, wealth, and opportunities - and she is doing a great job.
This list of women in the construction industry and true changemakers, breaking boundaries and paving the way for the future of women in construction. It is so inspiring to see so many women making changes to the industry, and we hope to see this grow.
Are you a businesswoman within the construction industry making changes, with a story to tell? Why not enter this year’s Great British Businesswoman Awards, and let us celebrate you and your achievements - enter here.
You can also nominate someone you know, who deserves to be shouted about - nominate here.