As we celebrate Women In Construction Week, it is an important reminder that so many people – especially young women - still don’t pursue the vast range of career opportunities within the construction industry. When I went to university, I was one of a handful of women in a class of about 50 people. Even now, as I look up in the construction industry, there are not many women in senior leadership. However, we are making amazing progress.
To coincide with this week I’m choosing to challenge the lack of representation of women in construction as a STEM Ambassador. In this role, I participate in various activities delivered to schools to promote the uptake of careers in the construction industry.
For those of you who are not familiar with the term, STEM refers to science, technology, engineering and maths. There are various statistics showing that we need to encourage a diverse cohort of young people to pursue STEM careers, to address the skills shortages faced in some industries and improve diversity and representation of under-represented groups.
This article is all about how you can get involved to help increase the number of people, including women working in construction.
Sign Up to Be a STEM ambassador
As an official STEM ambassador, you can sign up to a range of activities on the STEM learning website to help support the delivery of STEM learning activities across schools in the UK. For details of the full sign-up process, check it out here.
Activities can range from giving a career talk, judging science competitions, attending careers fairs and much more. With video calls, it has never been easier to be a STEM Ambassador.
Outcome: This will increase the exposure that young people have to STEM as early as possible – whilst they are still at school and in some cases, before they pick subjects.
Get involved in your professional body
The largest professional bodies for STEM related careers all have their own STEM initiatives and campaigns. Additionally, many have resources specific to the disciplines they oversee to give your ideas and help deliver impactful talks. Here are some links to a few:
For my field, quantity surveying, you can visit the RICS website page all about surveying apprenticeships. There are also other resources on career profiles for surveyors, as well as a fun game about surveying.
Outcome: Carrying out STEM activities whilst benefiting from the existing resources from your professional body.
Get involved with national campaigns and initiatives
There are several campaigns that run throughout the year which you can get involved in. These campaigns matter because they help to bring the STEM message to audiences across the world, especially onto social media. At the time of publishing this article, it is around International Women’s Day.
Outcome: Putting information to the public forum, to get people talking on social media and other platforms about STEM.
Create a My Skills My Life Profile (if you are a woman in construction)
My Skills My Life is a website set up by Women in Science and Engineering (WISE). It allows women to create profiles of what they do as a career in STEM. In turn, young women can create an account and view the career profiles of different women working in STEM. I created one in January. When I searched, there were only 3 profiles for quantity surveyors!
Outcome: Providing role models and aspirations for young women as they pursue a career in STEM, particularly construction.
Go solo, get creative
One thing I love, is that STEM activities do not have to be formal and organised by other people. You can make opportunities, wherever you are. Whilst on holiday a few years ago in Malawi, my husband and I were able to fit in a career talk to a school. It was fantastic to do this and be able to share with them. What hit us the most was how eager they were to learn and listen.
Outcome: Delivering STEM in your social context, which for me has been professionally and personally rewarding.
About the author
Alice Graham is a graduate quantity surveyor at Faithful+Gould, with a particular interest in the application of digital tools and innovation in the construction industry. Her current role involves delivering cost management and commercial services for a range projects across various sector and she is currently working towards becoming a Chartered Surveyor.
Alice is also a STEM Ambassador and has a keen interest in raising awareness and promoting the uptake of careers in the construction industry by young people.
More information here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zANK_FleE2o