Building a path for women

Researching our coverage this week about women working in the local construction industry brought with it some interesting responses.

Researching our coverage this week about women working in the local construction industry brought with it some interesting responses.

On the one hand we had contractors welcoming women to their fold with open arms - after all, skills shortages are the concern of the day and roles need to be filled - so why not widen your options to include the other half of the population?

Others exuded an air of political correctness and defiantly claimed that they recruited a sufficient 'quota' of women, while some of you were aghast even at the suggestion that a woman would want to hang out with a bunch of builders (the latter's mindset may well be entrenched in the stereotypical UK system, where a wolf-whistle probably rates highly on the required skillset).

Ok, I must admit, writing about construction might not have been my first subject choice when I set out on a career in journalism - would you believe, there are six women working across editorial on ITP's construction-related titles - so the industry must hold some appeal (and not simply because, as some may assume, it could lead to meeting a 'significant other').

But while most of you did agree that the industry in this region should be catching up with the rest of the world when it comes to getting more women into construction, the jobs tend to be limited to office-based support roles such as human resources or design-led positions like architecture.

It isn't so much that women don't have the capabilities to be project managers or engineers, it's more to do with the traditional perception that such jobs are better suited to men. Another barrier is qualifications and experience: maybe it's up to universities to adapt their degree courses for women and companies to give them their first jobs.

Yet one woman who has managed to break the mould, and in a country where women make up just 5% of the workforce, is Saudi Arabian architect Nadia Bakhurji, who last year became the first woman to be elected onto the Saudi Engineers Council.

Bakhurji will, hopefully, pave the way for things to come for women in the Middle East construction industry.

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Sep 01, 2020