Founded in 1953, Women in Construction week has grown throughout the years in its primary mission to spread awareness and enhance the success of women within the construction industry.
This year, Women in Construction week runs from Sunday 1st March – Saturday 7th March 2020, with a weeks’ worth of activities organised nationwide.
The National Association of Women in Construction includes 120 chapters and more than 4,000 members, with 9% of women making up the construction industry’s workforce.
In support of this movement, here at MGF we have asked a few of our own women in construction to talk about themselves, their experience and why they chose this industry. With the hope that this inspires and helps any women thinking about choosing a career in construction.
Director of Support Services
Jenny joined the construction industry through MGF as a temporary works design engineer in 2000 after completing a Civil Engineering degree at Liverpool University, being only 1 of 3 women on the course at the time.
‘I was always a bit of an all-rounder in my early education, so when it came to decision time for A-Level studies, I found it quite difficult to choose. I always enjoyed the STEM subjects as I found them interesting and challenging so I opted to study Maths, Physics & History.’
After seven years in design and working her way up to Design Manager, Jenny took a different direction to satisfy her passion for business improvement focusing on Quality Management. Also adding to her experience Marketing, BD, Leadership Development and Health and Safety, Jenny became Organisation Development Manager in 2014.
Further progression within the business resulted in Jenny gaining a seat on the MGF Board of Directors in 2016 as Support Services Director.
Jenny’s advice for women wanting to enter the construction industry:
‘Don’t be afraid! There are more women in construction now than when I started out, so it’s certainly not unusual anymore. The industry is full of opportunity and challenge and is constantly evolving which means it’s more important than ever to have a diverse workforce to deal with change innovatively. I firmly believe that there is a much higher level of both acceptance and respect for the contributions that women provide the industry nowadays.’
Depot Operations Manager
Mechelle’s original career path of nursing took a backseat whilst she completed a summer placement in MGF’s Accounts department in Astley, 30 years ago. As MGF expanded and moved to Rugeley, so too did Mechelle. In her new role on the hire desk, Mechelle was faced with a variety of challenges but building and maintaining relationships with customers allowed her product knowledge and confidence to excel.
With the development of her management skills and product knowledge, Mechelle was promoted to Operations Manager, loving that no two days are ever the same and there is always a challenge to face.
“I get to work with great people and customers, supporting other depots and training new staff – giving me great satisfaction that this benefits both an individual and the wider MGF business.”
Mechelle’s thoughts on the construction industry are:
“The industry can offer many opportunities, it requires teams made up of people from diverse backgrounds where different perspectives add real value. My experience over the years has taught me that opportunities arise when you least expect them – each one challenging and rewarding.”
To date, Emma has 14 years’ experience in engineering working in a variety of different roles, including working as a Senior Engineer within the Design department at MGF after joining in August 2011.
‘I started at the age of 18 when my Stepdad got me a job on site as a ‘Chain Person’. I had no idea what Civil Engineering was at the time and got a big shock on my first day on site with all men working in the freezing cold!’
Regarding the construction industry, Emma states:
‘The construction industry is widely known for being made up of a large proportion of male employees. In my personal experience gender has never really been an obstruction for me and have always felt inclusion and acceptance within the industry. I would encourage women to join the industry now more than ever especially with the industry lacking in skilled workers it’s a great opportunity to reduce the gender inequality.’
In her early years, Hannah never had any ambition to be in the construction industry, but her work experience with Lignacite as a 15-year-old must have sparked some interest as after her A-Levels, Hannah’s first job was in construction.
‘The construction industry wouldn’t succeed without all the hundreds of different roles required to deliver a successful project and behind each role is an individual with unique skills and ideas and the ambition to consistently improve on previous success. This is what I love about our Industry.’
Hannah’s most rewarding project she’s worked on to date has been the £1.5b A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon Road improvement scheme, due to its diversity and scope. Since the project began back in 2016, Hannah has been involved with over 120 individual schemes which include the safe installation of new services, diversion of existing services, road retainment, culvert installations, bridge abutments and tank installations.
For women looking to join the construction industry, Hannah says:
‘There is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t!’
Lisa had spent 17 years in the Recruitment industry managing a team of 9 staff before being offered a role of Regional Sales Representative. This was her first venture into the construction and hire industry, predominantly selling Heras fencing, barriers and scaffolding products.
‘Having no experience, I had to learn everything from scratch, but I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of it. Coming to MGF brought even bigger challenges for me, not having any experience in Groundworks or shoring but now I had an understanding of construction and I had already grown a good network of customers.’
Since then, Lisa has been involved in many schemes in South Wales, Gloucester, Cheltenham and the Swindon area. From her role, Lisa has also become a member of the Working Well Together Committee which is headed up by the HSE and Health and Safety professionals from within the industry.
Lisa’s words for other women going into the industry are:
‘Just go for it! One of my favourite quotes is “Working hard for something you don’t care about is called STRESS, working hard for something we love is called PASSION” – and I am very passionate about my role in this industry.’
Joana has always loved maths and physics so civil engineering seemed an interesting way to combine the two and put them into practice.
“I love the challenge and excitement of the process from designing a project to bringing it to life and maintaining it.”
Joana notes that the construction industry brings a different challenge and new problems to solve every day, but it is what keeps it moving forward and enjoyable.
If you’re considering a career in the construction industry, Joana says:
“Go for it! If you have an interest in engineering or construction, you won’t regret it. It will give you so many skills and a vast amount of knowledge you can apply to different sectors along your professional journey.”
Read more on Women in Construction Week here.