Celebrating International Women’s Day at Summers-Inman

At Summers-Inman we are proud to be supporting International Women’s Day and to be celebrating our highly talented female workforce.

International Women’s Day marked annually on March 8th celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women and also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. Significant activity is witnessed worldwide as groups come together to celebrate. It is also a day when thousands of fund-raising activities for female-focused charities get underway.

Summers-Inman understands the importance of empowering women throughout the firm and is  pleased to offer a host of career opportunities in which they can thrive.

This is a particularly important issue in the UK construction sector and one that needs to be addressed because, according to an article from the Women in Construction Summit 2020 there are still only

  • 3% of women in manual trades;
  • 5% of women in engineering;
  • 8% of women in haulage; and
  • 12% of women in professional roles.

The theme for International Women’s Day 2021, is ‘choose to challenge’ and focuses on how everyone still has a part to play in forging a gender equal world.

Whilst we acknowledge that the construction sector remains a highly male-dominated industry, we are pleased to have interviewed some of the women in construction at Summers-Inman who are trying to change that, along with their male colleagues, and are acting as ambassadors to encourage women into this exciting sector and show that there’s an equal workforce on the horizon.

Here’s what they said.

Claire Green, Quantity Surveyor, Edinburgh office

Q. Do you think it is a good time to be a woman in construction?

Yes, I think it is a good time to be a woman in construction. I would say it is an exciting time for women who are just joining the construction industry as it is now a more diverse and inclusive industry with opportunities for all and for women who have been part of the construction industry for a longer period as they are now seeing the growth of women in construction.

Q. What is your experience of gender bias in the sector?

I have worked in the sector for several years now.  At the start of my career in construction I was wary as I had been told that there would be a difference between men and women, but I can honestly say I have never personally experienced gender bias. I believe that everyone in the sector has the same opportunities to prove themselves, to develop and to succeed.

Q. What does Summers-Inman do to make you feel included?

I joined Summers-Inman a few months ago and from the start I have been welcomed to the team and given opportunities to work on some exciting projects. I am currently working towards my degree and my APC and the support that is available to me has been of great assistance. There is a real team feeling at Summers-Inman with the different professions working in collaboration on projects.


Gabrielle Hutchinson, Quantity Surveyor, Newcastle office

Q. Do you think it is a good time to be a woman in construction?

Yes, I feel there are a lot more opportunities available now compared to when I first started in the industry which is brilliant and shows how far the sector has come over the years.  However, I feel we do need to keep building on this for the new generations coming into the industry.

Q. What is your experience of gender bias in the sector?

I have not come across many instances of gender bias myself, but I know it still happens.  More often than not it may just be a passing comment. I think it will be a while before the stereotype disappears around women working in construction.

Q. What does Summers-Inman do to make you feel included?

Summers-Inman has always offered a friendly work environment which in turn makes you feel like part of a team. I’ve always been made to feel included and know that I can always reach out if there ever was an issue.


Kirsten O’Connor, Building Surveyor, Edinburgh office

Q. Do you think it is a good time to be a woman in construction?

Absolutely, I believe the industry is a lot more diverse now with a good balance of both male and female workers in the industry. I would always encourage those younger females to get involved in the construction industry.

Q. What is your experience of gender bias in the sector?

I’ve never experienced this personally; I’ve always got on really well with everyone in the industry regardless of their gender. I’ve never witnessed it happening to anyone else either, as of yet. I really feel like the industry has changed so much over the years and think it is very rare to see now.  I do believe everyone has the same opportunities regardless of their gender.

Q. What does Summers-Inman do to make you feel included?

Summers-Inman have made me feel included from day one. They have always involved me in social events, team meetings and the like even whilst I was part time and still at university. They are supporting me through my APC also which I greatly appreciate.


Andrew Rapmund, Associate Director, Newcastle office

Q. Do you think there are enough women in the construction industry currently?

No – it would be great to see more women in the construction industry.

Q. What would you say to encourage women into construction?

It is an industry that offers numerous and diverse practical, academic and office-based environments. It is exciting, creative and challenging at the same time. There are always opportunities to grow through continuing professional development, additional courses and qualifications in an ever-changing environment.

There has been continuous growth of women joining the construction industry which is a welcome trend and clearly a sign that gender equality in the sector is continuously improving which will inevitably result in a strengthening of the environments and competencies in which we work. 

Q. Why do you think Summers-Inman is a good company for women to progress their career?

Summers-Inman is an equal opportunities employer. Our Equality & Diversity Policy acknowledges the validity of existing anti-discrimination legislation and codes of practice applying in the employment field and will apply to all Summers-Inman employees and prospective employees.

The main aims of the policy are:

(a) To promote equality of employment opportunities

(b) To eliminate discrimination in employment

(c) To provide positive action measures where appropriate and to apply relevant supportive employment procedures, practices and develop appropriate training programmes

To achieve these aims, the company is committed to an ongoing programme of action and will make available resources to ensure the full and effective implementation of this policy.


Aynsley Cheatley, director, Edinburgh office

Q. Do you think there are enough women in the construction industry currently?

No, I don’t. Whilst there has been a noticeable increase during my 22-year career to date, there remains a considerable imbalance between men and women in the industry.

That said and on a positive note, I have noticed a considerable increase in the last 10 years, and I am pleased to have had the opportunity to work with more women in all sectors of the industry including Summers-Inman colleagues, other consultants, clients and contractors, which is an encouraging sign.

Q. What would you say to encourage women into construction?

I would encourage them by discussing the positive impact that they could have in the built environment around them by choosing a career in the construction industry whether in consultancy, construction or development, etc.

Women can play a huge part in shaping the future of the industry and at the same time create a legacy for future opportunities for women to follow and be inspired by. I think organisations such as Women in Property and Women in Construction play an excellent role in promoting the benefits of the industry to women. As a father of two young daughters, I would be proud if they decided on a career in the built environment and would be encouraged that they had chosen a rewarding career path and one in which they wouldn’t be discriminated against due to their gender.

Q. Why do you think Summers-Inman is a good company for women to progress their career?

I think Summers-Inman is a good company for women because we strive to ensure that there is no gender discrimination in terms of career progression or any other aspect of employment.

In Scotland, we have actively strived to address a previous lack of female technical staff and over the course of the last three years, we have achieved a greater balance which has benefited the entire team immeasurably. We treat all our team equally and give everyone equal opportunities to progress their careers. I personally would like to see more women progressing to management roles in the business and think that we are in a good position to achieve this.


Derek Brydon, Director of Health, Newcastle office

Q. Do you think there are enough women in the construction industry currently?

No.

Q. What would you say to encourage women into construction?

As an industry, we still aren’t great at promoting construction as offering career prospects for women. More needs to be done to raise awareness of the exciting opportunities available, including Engineering, Architecture and Surveying professions, covering areas such as digital technology, modern methods of construction and innovation. We certainly need to up our game to address the increasing skills shortage in construction.

Q. Why do you think Summers-Inman is a good company for women to progress their career?

Summers-Inman’s most valuable asset is their people, and recruitment and retention of talented people is a key objective. It’s a positive place to work, constantly promoting teamwork and staff support, offering individuals the chance to develop and progress their career in a friendly and collaborative environment– definitely a good place to be!


Caroline Morton, Health and Safety Advisor at Summers-Inman and chair of the National Association of Women in Construction North East & Tees Valley (NAWIC), an international not-for-profit association dedicated to the advancement of women in the construction industry, said:

“Being part of the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) has supported and encouraged me over the last 13 years.

“The network is fantastic to be a part of and through NAWIC North East I have made contacts who have mentored me through the early stages of my career, and I can now pass this experience on to new members or the organisation who are starting out on their careers in construction.

“I am proud to be Chair of the North East region, which is growing from strength to strength, working with our fantastic committee to ensure women are supported into and throughout their careers in this versatile industry.

“Summers-Inman have supported me with my involvement with NAWIC and I am proud to work within a company that provides equal opportunities for everyone.”

Summers-Inman believes it is vital that the construction industry recognises the importance of women in the workplace as in so doing, it will lead to a more united, dynamic, and collaborative future for us all.


If you have been inspired by this article and would like information on starting a career in the construction industry, then the following links may be useful:

https://www.citb.co.uk/

https://www.nawic.co.uk/index.php/

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