Lack of female role models and representation is the key barrier to a career in construction

8 Mar , 2023  

New research from Chadwicks Group reveals that a lack of female representation and role models in construction is the key barrier to entry for young women in Ireland.

The research, which was conducted ahead of International Women’s Day, examines the attitudes of 350 women aged 18-24 towards a career in construction. The results reveal that 44% feel there’s a lack of female representation in the industry and a resounding 93% believe more should be done to promote the industry to women.

As well as the issue of representation, the Chadwicks Group survey finds that 10% say there’s a lack of understanding around the types of careers open to women in the sector and 9% say they felt pressure by their teachers or parents to pursue third level education over an apprenticeship. 88% say that more should be done to promote apprenticeships and trade-based careers at school and 60% would consider a career in construction if they knew more about it.

While barriers to entry were acknowledged, 45% say they had considered a career in the industry with architecture (26%) engineering (16%) and project management (11%) the top three choices.

Indicating that more needs to be done to promote apprenticeship and trades to women, only 5% of those polled say they have considered becoming a carpenter or electrician while only 3% have thought about becoming a plumber.

Commenting on the findings Patrick Atkinson, CEO Chadwicks Group said: “The research clearly shows more needs to be done to encourage women into the industry. While it is positive to see 45% of women had considered a career in construction, it is disappointing to see a career in a trade was still very low. We are currently facing a drastic shortage of tradespeople in Ireland and more needs to be done to showcase the opportunities and benefits of a career in the trades – particularly to women.

“To address the findings of this research, more needs to be done by everyone to highlight women in construction roles. Respondents are calling out to learn from women working in construction. We need to grasp this opportunity and tell those stories. At Chadwicks Group, we’re on our own journey to encourage more women join the business. As Ireland’s leading builders’ merchants we are committed to proactively challenging ourselves to achieve this and have a number of initiatives in place to drive higher female representation. This includes our trainee merchanting programme which launched in 2019 and investing in enhanced family leave policies including maternity, fertility, adoptive and carers leave.”

Diane McDonald who was recently named Chadwicks Branch Manager of the year said: I have been worked with Chadwicks for over 15 years and over the years have worked my way up to Branch Manager of Bray, one of our largest branches in the country. Over the last 15 years I have seen more women join the business and it’s fantastic to see this trend going in the right direction. I would encourage more women to consider a career in construction whether that’s in a trade or indeed going into the building materials side of things. It’s a fascinating sector and I absolutely love what I do every day.” 

To celebrate International Women’s Day, Chadwicks Group is launching Season 3 of its award-winning podcast Under Construction with an episode dedicated to women in construction. Donncha O’Callaghan will be joined by Crane Driver Kate Fahey who will share her journey on how she became Ireland’s youngest ever female tower crane driver at 18 and Amy O’Toole who did her apprenticeship as an electrician and she is now a successful Project Manager. The podcast will be available to listen to here from, 8th March.