With the skills crisis cliff edge coming up fast and the Brexit Bomb still to drop, it's time to talk about women in the building trade. It's not just a question of boots on the ground on-site any more. UK construction needs fresh blood at every level, from top to bottom.

As the industry leans into its most innovative ideas to survive, it makes no sense to keep letting old stereotypes hold it back. Better use of technology means more opportunities for people with applicable skills to transfer into construction. However, if we aren't doing enough to keep them there, the trade stands to lose those same skilled hands and minds to other lines of work.

With an estimated 158,000 new construction jobs set to be created over the next 5 years, the industry just can't keep slamming the door on strong applicants.

We'll go into more detail about what's keeping women out of the building game, and what we can do about it, in an upcoming blog. For now, though, here's a countdown the key numbers we need to chew over:

93% of construction firms say more women in the industry would be good for them.

There's no great controversy about this one. Almost all the companies in a recent survey said that getting more women into the building trade would be as good or better for their business. However...

74% of workers don't know of any support for women entering leadership positions.

This really needs to change – and to be fair, it is changing. There are some initiatives around to help bring women into construction management. The thing is, what use are those projects if hardly anyone knows about them? That brings us to...

56% of companies support targets for putting women in senior roles.

Quotas can be a tricky subject, but it's one that's getting some attention. Right now, given 2 equally qualified applicants, construction still veers strongly toward employing men over women. In fact...

50% of building firms have never had a single female manager.

That's a pretty shocking finding in itself. Maybe those quotas are worth taking a second look at. After all...

48% of women in UK construction have experienced discrimination.

We're talking about losing out to men on things like promotions, job applications and key projects here. All too often, women just aren't taken seriously enough in the building game. Closing off career advancement is a great way to push women out of an industry that urgently needs them, leading to situations like...

47% of companies have no women on their boards.

Despite being 50% of the workforce, women are still badly under-represented in construction firm boardrooms. Partly, this is because there aren't enough of them being promoted “through the ranks”. Also, though, the industry simply isn't drawing in qualified women from other sectors. Sadly contributing to this situation is...

42% of firms don't monitor pay equality.

It's tough to get good information when no one's keeping score. If construction is going to attract skilled women at any level of the industry, it needs to be up-front about the deal it's offering.

39% of companies have promoted a woman into a senior position in the last 6 months.

There are signs that attitudes and practices are changing in construction, and this is arguably one of them. It's not a massive number, but women are fighting their way into top positions across the industry. We say “fighting”, because it really is an uphill struggle – particularly when...

28% of women in construction get inappropriate comments.

Think about that for a moment. Almost 1 in 3 women in the industry has had to put up with harassment from male colleagues. It's a critical time for the sector and we're actively driving people away. Not only that, but we're even making life miserable for the ones who do stick around

27% of construction firms aren't interested in employing any more women in the next 2 years.

Another symptom of the kind of attitudes that are embedded in the industry. As skills shortfall crisis looms, too many firms are still turning a blind eye to promising applicants. As for the women who do find work in construction...

23.3% gender pay gap exists in UK construction.

You've got to be careful with statistics like this, as they generally deal in averages rather than comparisons of people in the same job. However, one thing that's brutally obvious is that construction has the widest pay gap between men and women of any industry in the UK. Let's tighten the focus a little and see what happens...

22% gender pay gap for managers.

Even when we narrow things down to just management positions, women are still getting a severely raw deal. That might go some way toward explaining why...

20% of UK construction firms have never taken on a woman in a senior role.

Incredibly, 1 in 5 firms in the UK building trade have never even once employed a woman in a high-level position. It's a great shame, too, because...

15% financial performance advantage is gained by increasing gender diversity alone.

Right here, the figures speak for themselves. Simply making this one change leads to measurable benefits on the bottom line. However, despite making up half the country's total workforce...

13% of the UK's construction workforce are female.

You can see that something's gone badly wrong here. It's not just avoiding the skills shortfall that we're concerned with, either. There are actual, meaningful advantages to employing a wider range of candidates. For example...

10% more management and boardroom diversity is enough to see significant benefits.

Firms with just 10% more diversity in their employees are seeing an average of 5.8% more profit over their less diverse competitors. If that's not an argument for attracting more women into construction, then we honestly don't know what is.

The challenges and benefits of bringing women into construction is a big topic, and an incredibly important one. Check back here for more about why they're needed, what's keeping them out and what we can do about it.

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