Women in construction

By Catherine Robinson | 07.03.24

The number of women working in construction is on the rise, but more needs to be done to encourage inclusion in the industry at all levels.

According to a Construction News article published in October 2023, "women now make up a higher proportion of the construction workforce than at any other time since official records began".

Office for National Statistics (ONS) data for the period April to June 2023, shows that 15.8 percent of the workforce in the construction sector were women. An increase of 1.2 percent from the previous quarter.

However, most women in the industry work in roles related to project management, design, and administration. Fewer women work in trades such as carpentry and joinery. At the time the ONS data was collected, there were no female stonemasons or groundworkers listed.

The UK’s leading construction and scaffolding safety specialists SIMIAN write that despite the challenges women face in the industry, 13 per cent of construction firms are owned by women.

This week, two important awareness events are being celebrated – Women in Construction Week, and International Women’s Day.

In recognition, we wanted to shine a spotlight on one amazing project we are currently involved with, which is being delivered by an all-women team.

Leading by example

On the edge of a thriving market town in South Norfolk, a team of women are quietly getting on with it. Delivering a small but beautiful energy efficient self-build project on a plot of land nestled in the heart of the village. On completion, The Paddocks will be Kate Jackson’s forever home.

The cost of housing and a childhood dream motivated Kate, otherwise known as @ecobuildher, to spend years working towards owning grazing land for her beloved horses. However, it was a fortuitous meeting with Nicole Wright, Head of Planning at Rural Solutions, which helped Kate realise her ambition of gaining planning permission to build her own home.

Kate is a trained zoologist and classroom teacher with a passion for horses, learning, nature, and the environment. She describes herself as ‘Lisa Simpson, but less yellow’. She’s also a community organiser who works tirelessly to effect change locally and globally on issues around climate and social justice.

With build due to start next year, and a limited budget to create her dream home, Kate is busy overseeing the infrastructure works. She often undertakes landscaping using the contractor’s digger at weekends and has recently planted a new hedgerow.

She wants the project to employ and empower other women working for a more equitable and sustainable construction industry. As well as Nicole, Kate’s team includes Rebecca Crabtree, a registered architect and partner at p.arc, a design practice that specialises in beautiful and textured buildings that are kind to the planet, and Kirsten Bowden, a chartered landscape architect and arboricultural consultant.

Inspired approach

We asked Kate what her inspiration was for bringing together an all-women team for her project.

“It comes from a long-held belief, reading books such as Invisible Women by Caroline Criado-Perez, and knowing about the gender pay gap. I was part of the Women’s Employment and Enterprise Training Project in Norwich which supported women from all different backgrounds to be self-employed or run their own business.

I’ve also been involved in Wood Sisters, a Women’s Forest School Group which is all about women of different generations learning from one another. However, it was the mindset of the women I talked to – their approach, ideals, and philosophies around the environment and how we treat the land, which finally led me in this direction.”

One of the most striking features of the project is the sympathetic nature of the design and the way it assimilates into its setting and embraces the natural environment. Every detail has been carefully thought through, from ensuring the soil is contained and used on site to collecting rainwater for use on the land. There’s a sense of kinship about the project, which involves local people wherever possible. Even where Kate will ‘eventually’ sit to enjoy a cup of tea has been designed for.

Kate and her team collectively aspire to do what they can for the environment, nature, and the local community. It’s an exemplar project with the potential to inspire others and similar constructs. We’ll be sharing more details about Kate’s fabulous self-build project soon – watch this space.

Get in touch

At Rural Solutions, we are proud to have a dedicated cohort of women in our team, across all departments. Over 50 percent of the company’s workforce is female with a strong number represented at both board and management level.

Explore our website to find out more about our work or get in touch by emailing info@ruralsolutions.co.uk.



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