Helen - Architectural Department Manager
When it comes to gender inequality, it is clear that the construction industry has a problem. Widespread evidence shows that employment inequality in the construction industry is both a prevalent and problematic issue- in 2017, statistics reported that “99% of on-site construction workers are male,” and “only 11% of the entire construction industry is female, including design or administrative positions as well as on site jobs.” In 2018, “statistics show that 1 in 5 businesses have failed to employ a woman into a senior position, with half of all companies claiming they have never had a female manager in their firm.”
Freddie - Trainee Designer
Despite the evident lack of gender diversity in staff employment that these figures show, we can strongly attest to the construction industry offering a hugely diverse range of jobs, and requiring a diverse range of employees to fill them.
“Bucking the common trend and the old preconceived ideas that the construction industry is a male domain, the Oakwrights female workforce has grown tenfold. In the past it was hard being a young woman in a so-called ‘man’s environment’; opinions and ideas would go unnoticed or half heard, only to see them reappear later but voiced by a male colleague. Thankfully, the pendulum swings both ways and now we are starting to stand on a common platform with our male counterparts. Equality and diversity within a growing company’s workforce is always an investment for the future.” Mariyana Hartland, Architectural Assistant.
Freddie mentoring a young female student on work experience
Equality of opportunity is something Oakwrights is constantly striving for; we aim to create an environment that values the plethora of skills that our employees and candidates offer, entirely irrelevant of their gender. We aspire to work as a company that is attractive to female candidates, to ensure they are accredited on their professional merit and skills, and to create an environment that is open and unassuming in regards to gendered expectation- you don’t have to be one of the ‘lads’ to fit in- and, hopefully, we succeed.
“It’s an honour and privilege to work in the industry as an Architect, and it’s wonderful to work alongside many talented men and women. I have had and still have strong male and female mentors and influences throughout my career, either working directly in practice or from known icons; both historical and of our time. Many attributes and ways of thinking can influence Architecture as design ideas come from the world around us and other professions, especially the arts; painting, drawing, music, literature. It is exciting to see an increase in women in the construction industry generally, and consider we have a good balance of men and women within Oakwrights. Most importantly, we are all passionate about what we do and this commitment alongside teamwork and good communication really shows in the final design; leaving our mark on the built environment.” Helen Needham, Architectural Department Manager.
Removing stereotypes and shifting perceptions surrounding a culture of predominantly male-centric work is admittedly no small feat. The industry has an incredibly long way to go before it can claim to be equal; but steps are being taken in the right direction. In October and June respectively, Oakwrights welcomed young female students to complete work experience; both hands-on in the workshop, and looking at marketing and design in our offices. In encouraging the younger generation of women to try their hand and experience construction industry jobs, we open up exciting new possibilities, both for employees and the company. Our most recent work experience student getting to grips with the workshop.
Our work experience students get a taste of all aspects of the company.
“Being an Oak Frame Designer is bitter-sweet – although mostly sweet, I might add. The majority of clients unquestioningly place their trust in you; and with the Oakwrights team assigned to their project they are in good hands and are full of praise by the time the frame is up on site. However, there are rare occasions where male clients or contractors treat you with disdain and/or won’t trust what you’re saying or doing; question your every response/advice; sometimes bluntly ignore you or bypass you to talk to male colleagues. It’s a sad moment when it becomes apparent it’s simply because you are a female.
Some follow-on-tradesmen have been outright rude and walked past me on site, even though the client has directed them to me. I should take offence or make an issue of it, but you almost resign yourself to the inherent sexism that still persists. Ultimately, it’s their loss if they don’t talk to me. After all, I’m the one who has spent months working up a millimetre-accurate wire-frame 3D model and considered almost every aspect of the build. If they don’t want to tap into my intricate knowledge then that’s on them.
It’s the moments where clients exclaim their joy at seeing a female in a key role of the construction industry; I had one who was excited that she would be able to tell her daughters there are far more options out there for their futures.
I don’t like to stick my head above the parapet and argue my rights in this industry. I’d much rather silently forge a path by my actions and my work. Recently that culminated in a project of mine making it onto the cover of Build It magazine, so I don’t feel the need to say anything at all.” - Sarah Connelly, Frame Designer.
“I personally wouldn’t want to work on site or in a physical role because I’m best suited to what I do in the office- if this was not the case, however, I would be more than happy to go out on site. I think people are very accepting of you being you more and more these days, and this will only increase. People should be more equal generally in life, and as with everything we don’t need to label people. We should just do a job we love, regardless of gender or any other labels, in a fair environment- no matter who we are.” Anna Davies Wood, Estimator.
If you are interested in coming to work for Oakwrights, click here to view our vacancies and apply today.
Oakwrights staff enjoying a Show Home event.
Current Female Employees
- Abigail Architectural Assistant
- Alice Graphic Designer
- Adel Receptionist
- Anna Estimator
- Barbara Frame and Encapsulation Designer
- Belinda Financial Controller and Company Secretary
- Carrie Senior Designer
- Ellie Senior Estimator
- Emma Trainee Designer
- Frederica Trainee Designer
- Gemma Graphic Designer
- Georgina Marketing Manager
- Hannah Frame Designer
- Helen Architectural Department Manager
- Helen Finance Assistant
- Izzie OCB Estimator
- Jakki OCB Estimator
- Jess Sales Administrator
- Katherine Marketing Intern
- Kelly Customer Relationship Manager
- Lauran Project Coordinator
- Libby Projects Liaison
- Mariyana Architectural Assistant
- Michelle Sales Assistant
- Mira Framing Intern
- Nicole Finance Assistant
- Sara Frame Designer
- Sarah Frame Designer
- Tania Receptionist
- Zoe OCB Design Consultant