News / Events / Responsibility 05.03.20

Q&A: Frances Dixon – Being a Woman in the Construction Industry

Women in construction

This week celebrates not only Women in Construction Week but also International Women’s Day. It’s no secret that the construction industry still remains a predominately male industry. This being said, the figures are gradually improving and we hope that by promoting and celebrating our female workforce, we will be able to help increase this number in the years to come.

We had a chat with Maylim Project Manager, Frances Dixon about what it’s like to be a woman in the industry:

Has the construction industry always been of interest to you? 

I was 16 when I knew I wanted to study engineering. I always enjoyed practical, hands on activities when I was younger and saw engineering as a great opportunity to combine this with technical knowledge.

Were there many opportunities in getting into this industry? 

I was encouraged at secondary school to apply for the Year in Industry Scheme. I spent my gap year working in the industry and was fortunate to be sponsored through university by the company. I think apprentices and graduate schemes are a great way into the industry and a lot of companies are now offering such opportunities. Being able to combine the practical knowledge you’re receiving at college or university with on-site experience is really beneficial.

Do you feel there is still a stigma around women working within construction?

Absolutely, yes. However, in the years i’ve worked in the industry it has changed. It’s amazing how many people assume you’re male when dealing with you over email, or think they’ve got the wrong number on the phone.

What has been the most surprising part of being a woman working in construction?

Being a woman in the industry actually puts you in a unique position. It’s much easier to stand out from the crowd and pave the way for your own career. To be part of a supportive company that encourages your development makes it a really enjoyable, yet challenging industry to work in.

Do you have any advice for young women thinking about a career in construction? 

Do it! It’s a great industry to work in with such a diverse opportunity of different career options. Never change who you are or your personal beliefs. You’ll find a home in the industry and won’t look back!

What are the positives of working in the construction industry?

The sense of pride in being able to go back to a site once it’s been finished and know that you contributed to the wellbeing of the community in the area. Our work stands the test of time and your project and hard work will remain for many years to come. This achievement never gets old and you always look out for the projects you’ve worked on.

What are your views on what the industry needs to do to help attract and retain more women? 

I think a lot of work needs to be done in primary schools. The stigma that this is a “male-only industry” is engrained at such an early age that barriers need to be broken down much earlier. I think schools need to be aware of the breadth of opportunities available in the construction industry – not every role involves standing outside in hi-vis clothing! Lastly, I think a lot of work also needs to be done to encourage women to return to construction after a career break. The industry can move very quickly and time off can seem daunting.

What are your future career goals? 

To be the most successful I can be so that young women coming into the industry have someone to look up to who can prove that anything is possible! There is a distinct lack of female-led role models in the industry and I think being in this position allows you to break down the barriers and ensure women can see that it can be done.