Friday 2nd November 2018
Angela Lemon, Partner and Quantity Surveyor at calfordseaden, reflects on 40 years in the construction industry, the changing role of women in the field, and her rise from trainee Quantity Surveyor to Partner.
I recently read Randstad’s Women in Construction Report 2018, which found that 49% of respondents had never worked with a female manager, highlighting the need for greater female representation in the construction industry and, particularly, more leadership opportunities for women in the workforce.
Interestingly, the report underscores the importance of encouraging more women into the sector at college age, and for me, it was encouragement of this variety that led me into the field.
Having completed my A Levels, I enrolled at the local careers office and was sent for an interview with Doug Roberts at Alfred E. Seaden; he had stipulated that he wanted a local grammar school pupil to train as a Quantity Surveyor, and I fitted the bill!
Over the past 40 years, I’ve seen progress in the industry as women rise in prominence and numbers, but obstacles still remain, with room for further change.
I was the only female in a class of 20 for five years whilst studying. Female surveyors are a little more common nowadays, but there are still not enough of us. In the affordable housing sector, the majority of our clients are now female, but the professional construction consultancy world is lagging behind.
The construction industry is still largely male dominated and we need more female role models. Randstad’s report shows that just under half (45%) of women indicated that a lack of senior female role models was a barrier to progression. In addition, there is still not enough emphasis placed on going into schools to persuade females that a good career in the construction industry is a possibility, and that building is not just for boys.
It’s not all doom and gloom, though! Many companies, including calfordseaden, are increasingly aware of the need to actively seek out and encourage women in the industry.
When I started out, it was quite a rare thing to see a woman on a building site. The industry was dominated almost entirely by men, who would look suspiciously at you, wondering what you were doing in “their domain”
Thankfully that has largely changed, and, almost universally, women are now accepted, encouraged and supported, as long as they act professionally and perform their duties confidently, professionally and diligently.
I’m glad that this is the case, because the future of the industry is bright. The job is never boring; there is always something new to learn. Changes in how we procure, fund, design, and build, together with changes in legislation, particularly those following failings in the Industry, keep us on our toes.
Celebrating 40 years in the industry has been a fantastic professional milestone for me, and it’s proven, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that there is no reason why a female cannot do this job as well as any male counterpart.