CTS Celebrating Women in Construction Week 2022


CTS celebrate Women in Construction

 

6th to 12th March 2022 is Women in Construction week, highlighting women as an important and viable component of the construction industry.

 

There are lots of stereotypical views within the industry. One of these being that there is no place for women in construction. Whilst women still make up just 11% of the construction workforce, the industry continues to make considerable progress in addressing diversity, and recruiting women into the industry is going to be essential for tackling the skills shortage in UK construction.

 

WIC week is in its 24th year and was started by the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) who wanted to create a support network for women working in a male-dominated field. Their core purpose is to ‘Strengthen and amplify the success of women in the construction industry and this year’s theme is Envision Equality.

 

At CTS we truly appreciate all the wonderful women we have working within our business. To celebrate we are highlighting some of the many different roles available within construction and sharing an insight into what it is like being a woman in construction and challenge career stereotypes. Our goal is to inspire more women to join the industry and to raise awareness of the types of opportunities available.

 

We asked some of our colleagues to share their stories.

 

Claire Reynolds – Quality Manager

How did you get started in the construction industry? – I kind of fell into it really. I was doing a degree in biology and as part of that I had to do a placement year for a diploma in professional studies. I knew the owners of Newark Laboratories, as it was called at the time, and they offered me a six-month placement. Once I got started, I realised it really interested me and I was keen to continue working for the company. I headed back to university for the final year of my degree but still worked at the laboratory one day a week undertaking calibrations. Once I finished university, I went back to work full time at the laboratory and the rest, as they say, is history. In hindsight though if I had known more about the industry when I applied for my degree, I probably would have done something construction related.

How long have you been in the construction industry? – It is just over 20 years since I started on that placement year…how time has flown.

Have you ever felt daunted by being in an industry that is male dominated? – I think 20 years ago people were just starting to accept women in the man’s world of construction but more as a novelty (especially on sites) but it’s becoming more and more accepted. I was very much accepted for my skills on the whole but there were times particularly when visiting sites that people would look at you with a ‘oh look a woman’ attitude. I think there have been times when people have underestimated my ability because I was a woman but with hard work and the knowledge I had, I was able to show them I was up to the job.

What do you like the best about being in the construction industry? – I love learning and understanding about the industry, I find it interesting. My partner thinks I’m strange/ boring when I drive past a site and want to see what is going on and start talking about what I can see but I love to understand how everything works and particularly how testing fits into this. I also enjoy the camaraderie that you get from people in the industry, it is a more relaxed informal atmosphere most of the time where people work together to achieve something.

What advise do you have for young women entering the industry? – Don’t be afraid, most people have your back and will help you succeed. There maybe a few people a bit more reluctant but you can prove them wrong by just being good at what you do.

 

Elly Saunders – Senior Engineer

Why did you choose construction as a career? – I didn’t choose construction as a career, it was more that I happened to find myself in it. I knew that I didn’t want to be stuck in an office all day every day and wanted variety from each day. By working for a consultancy, I work in many different places, which aren’t always construction sites either!

How long have you been in the construction industry? – Nearly 5 years

How did your friends/family react to you choosing a career in construction? – They are proud and enjoy seeing me pursue my career in an industry where I can make a difference and encourage other women to do the same!

Have you ever felt daunted by being in an industry that is male dominated? – No, if anything I like being a female because it changes the attitudes and environment (in a good way!) and shakes things up a bit!

What do you like the best about being in the construction industry? – There is never a dull day, and I’m always learning something new. I also like to be out and about and visiting different sites too.

What advise do you have for young women entering the industry? – Show others respect, and they will respect you. Feel empowered to speak up.

What accomplishments in your construction career are you most proud of? – Working on the Old Oak Common site for HS2. It was a site where I learnt a lot about earthworks, which was not my specialism when I started, but I learnt a lot whist I was there, not only about the technical aspects, but also the way the contractors work on site. It was a huge project that took a lot of teamwork and perseverance. But we got through it with really good feedback all round.

 

Zoe Cooper – Key Account Director

How did you get started in the construction industry? – I originally gained qualifications in electronics & electrical engineering but having noticed a decline in the industry due to the closing of a lot of UK manufacturing sites and products being imported, I decided that it may be time to change industries. I was approached by Severn Trent laboratories and made the move into environmental testing and have been in the construction industry now for the last 20 years.

Have you ever felt daunted by being in an industry that is male dominated? – Yes, but that was the attractive challenge for me. I believe you earn your respect by how you conduct yourself not by your gender.

What do you like the best about being in the construction industry? – Being involved in flagship projects and seeing how this evolves from cradle to grave, I am extremely proud of the projects I have worked on. I have also met some fabulous people over the past two decades who have been instrumental to how I have developed. I have made lifetime friendships, grown partnerships, and earned mutual respect from peers and clients.

What advise do you have for young women entering the industry? – I have a saying “just keep swimming”. There are always good and bad days in any career with many different challenges but embrace and take advantage of them by learning and developing as an individual.

What accomplishments in your construction career are you most proud of? – When I first entered the industry, I visited similar clients who were reluctant to share experience, but after a number of discussions with likeminded people we created the YCLF, (Yorkshire Contaminated Land Forum) where I am one of the founding members. YCLF was established in 2007 to bring together land quality practitioners across Yorkshire, meeting quarterly to discuss topical land quality issues including soil, water and groundwater affected by contamination. At meetings, we present and receive interesting presentations, network in an open and friendly environment and work collectively towards improving land quality.

 

Lindsay Reid – Project Manager

Why did you choose construction as a career? – The construction sector is an ever-involving market which offered career longevity in a sector that I was interested in.

How long have you been in the construction industry? – I have been within the construction industry since attaining my degree (BSc Earth Sciences/Geology) 9 years ago.

How did your friends/family react to you choosing a career in construction? – I had other family members who have worked in construction divisions where women were a minority and therefore, they supported me in my unusual career choice.

Have you ever felt daunted by being in an industry that is male dominated? – In a male dominated arena, I do feel that I continually need to prove myself against my fellow colleagues.

What do you like the best about being in the construction industry? – I really enjoy the fast-paced side of the industry as we are able to take projects from inception to completion. The variety of projects keeps the job interesting – no day is ever the same!

What advise do you have for young women entering the industry? – Don’t be afraid of the construction side of industry!! The variety and job satisfaction that it offers it well worth looking into.

What accomplishments in your construction career are you most proud of? – My proudest achievement to date is achieving the role of project manager here at Mason Evans, especially in an industry with such few women. This promoted role highlights to other females that there is an open career path within the industry.

 

Jill Barrett – Office Manager

How did you get started in the construction industry? – It was actually by default to help my husband when he started the business back in 2000, initially it was just helping with accounts and payroll but in 2018 I joined full time to assist with all office administration. In 2020 I started liaising with clients and assisting the surveyors with quotes and organising their schedules and workload.

Have you ever felt daunted by being in an industry that is male dominated? – No, I work in an office as a sole female at Silkstone and I find that they are all very helpful and assist me with the technical side of the position, when needed. Likewise, they are all aware that I am in the office to assist them and help in any way I can. Be it sorting out the company vehicles, ordering equipment, organising calibration of equipment, or visiting the timber merchant to buy wooden survey pegs and many more tasks.

What advise do you have for young women entering the industry? – Don’t feel daunted and to go for it. If you work for a forward-thinking company the possibilities for advancement are endless.

 

Lesley Kirby – Laboratory Technician

How did you get started in the construction industry? – Many years ago, when I was in my 20s, my husband and I at that time, had a building company. Apart from the whole administration side of the business I was also regularly on site dealing with subcontractors and quality control of all building works.

Have you ever felt daunted by being in an industry that is male dominated? – For me, no. But it is a very male dominated and stereotyping is still very prominent. I grew up with brothers and have always been one to work with the guys on the ground. I’m not adverse to manual work and enjoy working outside.

What advise do you have for young women entering the industry? – There are so many aspects and roles within the construction industry. The different skills both men and women bring can only improve this vital industry. As with any role, anywhere, enjoy the work you do with enthusiasm, confidence of your skills and acknowledge the contribution you are making.

 

Paula Sheldon – Business Unit Manager – Site Investigation

Why did you choose construction as a career? – I didn’t! My whole working life has been in the insurance sector, its only very recently (6 months) my roles have intertwined, and I find myself in a new genre of work! Exciting!

How did your friends/family react to you choosing a career in construction? – My transition came with a promotion, so they were all very proud.

Have you ever felt daunted by being in an industry that is male dominated? – I’m fortunate to work in a business where I don’t think it matters what sex you are. I have also grown up with a lot of male friends.

What do you like the best about being in the construction industry? – For me personally I like the new challenges having worked in a “suits” environment for so long it’s really refreshing.

What advise do you have for young women entering the industry? – Go for it, it’s like going for any other job, if you fancy it then do it!

What accomplishments in your construction career are you most proud of? – The fact that I managed to get a promotion which brought me into the industry is a real achievement

 

Sasha Mahon – Laboratory Supervisor

How did you get started in the construction industry? – My Dad who works in the industry for another company first got me into the role, starting as a laboratory tech before moving into admin. I then changed my career completely working in logistics and then found myself at CET (now CTS). I have been in the industry for nine years and I am now laboratory supervisor for Heathrow. It is all down to my Dad really, without him I wouldn’t be in the position I am in now. He has been in his role for 30 years and has taught me a lot along the way.

Have you ever felt daunted by being in an industry that is male dominated? – When I first started work in the laboratory, I did feel quite intimidated as it was a very male orientated environment. However, many more females are joining the industry and it is great to see women taking on roles that are only deemed suitable for ‘men’. It provides equality and our company have really captured that having also implemented COFE club (Creating Opportunities for Excellence) which I am part of. The COFE Club was designed to support and empower women across our business

What do you like the best about being in the construction industry? – The industry is so diverse and fast paced, every day Is different and that keeps me motivated and on my toes all the time.

What advise do you have for young women entering the industry? – Never be afraid or intimidated going into a role that is deemed by society to be ‘just for men’. There are plenty of roles that young women can take on in this industry, I have worked my way from being a trainee technician nine years ago to being a laboratory supervisor. Everyone can make a difference in their career; you just need to ensure you give as much into your job as you want out of it.

What accomplishments in your construction career are you most proud of? – I think I am most proud of the promotion I have received last year becoming laboratory supervisor. I have worked my way up through the company and it helps mentally knowing you are being recognised for the work and effort you put into the role. That is something that CTS does really well.

 

Have any of our ladies’ stories inspired you to explore a career in construction at CTS? – Take a look at our careers page to find out more. 

#WICWEEK2022

Construction Testing
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