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News: Breaking down gender stereotypes in construction

Photo of Joanne Hardwicke with quote
Joanne Hardwicke

There’s so much that goes into a major development like the two new builds being constructed on our Basford site, and it’s not all hard hats and muddy boots!

Continuing our International Women’s Day theme, we hear from three key female figures leading the project: College Project Lead and Surveyor, Joanna Crawshaw, Architect Victoria Dukeson and Project Manager Joanne Hardwicke, who give us their insight into equality within the sector.

Joanne Hardwicke

I have worked in the construction industry for 20 years; first starting out in architecture and eventually moving across to Project Management. Even in this relatively short period of time I have seen gradual but tangible shifts in this typically male dominated industry. When I started my career, it was not unusual to be the only woman in a meeting room, and whilst this of course still happens occasionally, more often than not, I have the pleasure of working alongside amazingly talented female professionals as part of my project teams. 

Our work with Nottingham College is a great example of how far we’ve come; within the client team we have a 50 / 50 gender split and I genuinely believe the projects have benefitted from the diversity of skills, attitudes and temperament that brings. 

Not only that, there is so much more recognition now that as a sector we need to make more effort to improve the balance and encourage more women in. As an Associate Director at EDGE, I am a member of our Yes She Can’ working group which strives to do just that – empower our female staff to reach their full potential as well as making EDGE an attractive workplace to women of all ages and roles. No woman should ever feel that she can’t excel in Construction due to her sex. As an industry we’ve made good progress but there is still a long journey ahead. 

Joanne Hardwicke — Associate Director at EDGE property consultancy
Victoria Dukeson

I qualified as an Architect just under 20 years ago and have worked in several different sized practices, including being the Director of my own company. I set up my own practice, with another female Architect, just over 10 years ago to allow me to work very flexibly around my children who were young at the time. Moving forward from this, my current employer has evolved with, and possibly beyond, the current thinking, and a flexible working approach is now embedded within the ethos of the company. This has allowed women, who are traditionally considered as the primary carer in households, access to more roles whilst acknowledging the need for a balance with their chosen care responsibilities at home. In only the last two years, this approach has aided an increase in female Architects from 22 in 2022 to 41 within the practice by the start of 2024 (36.3% of all Architects at Bond Bryan). 

Alongside the increase in numbers of females at Bond Bryan, my current projects with Nottingham College have been a significant step forward with a roughly 50/50 gender split in the overall design team for the first stages of the project. The differing attitudes to problem solving, the variety of proficiencies within the design team and the approach to design in general have helped both projects be the best they can. 

Unfortunately, the male/​female balance has shifted dramatically now the project is being built. I am the only female on site within the contractor’s team. This is the point in the building process where it is most apparent that only 15.8% of the entire construction industry workforce are female. Increasing knowledge of the designing and building parts of the construction process to girls at school age would benefit the industry as a whole and to address the gender imbalance. Enlightenment through education at an earlier age could show females they can become involved in any stage of the construction process and that it is a career to consider. 

Victoria Dukeson — Project Architect at Bond Bryan
Joanna Crawshaw

I have worked in the construction industry for over 30 years, and during this time I’ve faced many challenges as a female working in an industry that comprises a predominantly male workforce. However, on the whole, those challenges and experiences have helped to positively shape me and my career, as well as fuelling my drive to excel in an industry I love being part of. 

I started my career as an apprentice quantity surveyor in 1988, studying part-time for my degree in quantity surveying, and quickly progressing to become a chartered quantity surveyor and securing an MSc construction procurement shortly after that. Throughout my higher education journey, I have worked full-time and found this route to be fulfilling and rewarding, meeting friends for life along the way. I gradually moved into project management over 20 years ago, using my skills and knowledge of the construction process to deliver projects successfully in support of our College business goals. 

Today’s workforce is more supportive of women than it ever was when I started my career, because women have proven they are just as intelligent, resourceful and skilled as men. I would encourage any woman considering a career in the industry to give it a go — you won’t look back, and there are some excellent support networks for women in construction, helping us feel part of an inclusive culture.” 

Joanna Crawshaw — Nottingham College Projects Manager
Published on:
  • 7th March 2024 (4:30 AM)
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