Girls Can Do It Too
11 January 2017
Debbie Akehurst, Head of Economy & Community, explains what we are doing to redress the gender imbalance in the construction and property industry
When you were at school what did you want to be? Although it seems a distant memory now, when I was at school I remember that the boys were encouraged to pursue stereotypical masculine careers and us girls were pushed towards nursing, teaching and the arts. In fact, I began work in the window dressing and design industry. A career in property and construction never even crossed my mind. But here I am now, working for the largest FTSE 100 commercial property company in the UK. And that is why our Girls Can Do It Too project, launched this week, is something I am very passionate and excited about.
Construction and property are still male-dominated industries, despite it being 2017. In particular the numbers are really low in construction where only 11% of the workforce is female and in trades such as carpentry, bricklaying and plumbing, that drops to just 4%. We aim to increase those numbers by engaging with young girls to raise their awareness of the career opportunities in the industry. This is why we launched Girls Can Do It Too with girls aged 11-16 at St Martin-in-the-Fields High School and Mount Carmel College for Girls.
The project, in conjunction with Ahead Partnership, a social enterprise that creates and delivers projects that link businesses to schools, takes place over a period of eight weeks and culminates with an exciting ‘Dragons Den’ style finale.
The project was launched with a speech from Colette O’Shea, Managing Director of Land Securities’ London Portfolio, who encouraged the girls to ‘keep an open mind’. She explained that without women in the industry, it lacks a diversity of thought. A panel of women from Keltbray, JLL, Land Securities and Duprez Consulting then shared their passion for construction and property, and highlighted the importance of women in the industry. Three workshops rounded off the day, focusing on demolition, tower building and a tour of Land Securities’ new state-of-the-art headquarters in Victoria.
Girls Can Do It Too aims to improve the visibility of the construction sector, providing practical experience, inspirational female mentors and insight to encourage more girls to consider a career in construction and to address the skills gap the sector is facing.
Over the next eight weeks, the girls will have to complete a challenge, which will simulate how different construction trades combine within a real construction project. The challenge will introduce them to planning, decision-making and the unforeseen problems that crop up when bringing a construction project from development to completion.
We are excited to see what they come up with and all will be unveiled at our finale event, where a panel of ‘dragons’ will judge the final projects. Watch this space!
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