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Breaking Gender Stereotypes: Encouraging Women to Pursue STEM Careers in Construction

Between 2010 and 2020, the number of women accepted into full-time STEM undergraduate courses increased by 49%. (Source: GOV.UK)

The construction industry has traditionally been male-dominated, with women making up only a small percentage of the workforce. However, as the demand for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and maths) skills continues to grow, there is a push to encourage more women to pursue careers in construction. With the help of governmental institutions and progressive companies, women are breaking gender stereotypes and making their mark in the world of STEM, particularly in the construction sector. 

In this blog post, we will explore the challenges women face in this field, the efforts being made to attract more women to STEM careers in construction, and hear from inspiring women at Trimble who have successfully navigated this industry.

Analysing the Current Gender Gap in STEM Careers, with Focus on the Construction Industry

When it comes to STEM careers, women in engineering are severely underrepresented, and the construction industry is no exception. The gender gap in this field is striking, with women making up only a small fraction of the workforce. This results from various factors, including societal expectations and stereotypes, lack of representation, and unconscious biases.

According to stemwomen.com, gender disparities persist in STEM careers, with only 19% of female students studying engineering and technology, while male students dominate at 81%. These imbalances demonstrate a pressing need to address societal stereotypes and biases that limit women's career opportunities.

One of the main reasons for the gender gap in STEM careers, including engineering in construction, is the perception that these fields are more suitable for men. This perception is deeply ingrained and starts at a young age, with girls often discouraged from pursuing careers in STEM. As a result, many women face challenges and obstacles in entering and advancing in these industries.

To address this issue, it is crucial to understand the many benefits of having more women in the construction industry. Diverse teams have been proven to be more innovative, creative, and productive, leading to better problem-solving and decision-making. By encouraging women to pursue STEM careers, particularly in construction, we can tap into a vast pool of talent and expertise that has long been untapped.

In the following sections, we will explore the efforts being made to attract more women to STEM careers in construction, including the actions of the UK government and inspirational voices from women at Trimble who have successfully navigated this industry. Read on to learn more about breaking gender stereotypes and empowering women in engineering and construction.

Unveiling the Benefits of More Women in the Construction Industry

There are significant benefits to having more women in the construction industry. Firstly, diversity in teams has been shown to lead to better problem-solving and decision-making. By having a more equal representation of men and women, different perspectives and approaches are brought to the table, resulting in more innovative and creative solutions. Women in engineering bring a unique set of skills and expertise, which can significantly contribute to the growth and success of the industry.

Additionally, having more women in the construction industry can help to break down stereotypes and challenge societal expectations. By showcasing successful women in these roles, young girls and women are encouraged to pursue careers in STEM fields. This helps create a more inclusive and supportive industry for everyone, regardless of gender.

Overall, increasing the number of women in engineering benefits the individuals and the industry, fostering a more diverse, innovative, and inclusive construction sector.

Actions of the UK Government to Encourage Girls and Women into STEM Fields

The UK government has been taking active steps to encourage girls and women to pursue careers in STEM fields, including engineering in construction. One such initiative is the Your Life campaign, launched in 2014, which aims to increase the number of young people, particularly girls, studying STEM subjects at A-levels and going on to pursue STEM careers. The government has also invested in various programmes and scholarships to support women in STEM, providing opportunities for education, training, and career development.

In addition to these efforts, the government is working towards creating a more inclusive and diverse workforce through policies and regulations. They have introduced legislation to promote gender equality in the workplace, requiring companies to report on their gender pay gaps and take action to address them. 

These actions not only highlight the government's commitment to promoting gender equality in STEM but also serve as a powerful message to girls and women that their participation in these fields is valued and encouraged.

Overcoming Challenges and Building Success - Personal Stories from Trimble's Female Engineers 

At Trimble, women are making their mark in the world of STEM and breaking gender stereotypes in the construction industry. We spoke with some incredible women at Trimble who have successfully navigated this traditionally male-dominated field.

Hilke Zijstra, Growth Marketing Manager EMEA at TrimbleHilke Zijstra, Senior Marketing Manager EMEA at Trimble, has a mechanical engineering background from the Technical University of Delft, where she was always the only female in project groups. She regularly experienced different treatments from her male students during her studies and was even confronted with unpleasant questions concerning motherhood and career from colleagues at work.

To the question of how we can encourage more women to pursue a career in STEM and/or Construction, she said:

“This does concern me; not only to get more diversity, but also simply because we are dealing with shortages and skills gaps within our industry. It is often suggested that girls simply are not interested in STEM topics. When I see my daughters playing with Legos, I find that hard to believe. In any case, I think it is good to introduce children to STEM subjects at a young age. To make them curious, sustain interest, and show them the various possibilities in this career field. That’s why it is so important for girls and women to have role models, not only to tell them what is possible, but to actually show them.”

At Trimble, she feels she gets the same opportunities as her male counterparts. 

Amanda Fox, a Senior Product Marketing Manager at Trimble
Amanda Fox