by Jacqueline O’Donovan

Women only make up around 10 per cent of the construction sector workforce, with the majority in office-based roles. In demolition, the statistics are even bleaker and it begs the question, why? As a woman who has been in demolition for years, I find this astonishing. 

I was thrust into the industry aged just 17 when my father died unexpectedly. By 19, I was managing director and being young and female in a male dominated industry, I was often mistaken for one of the team as opposed to the MD and I had to work much harder to prove my knowledge and capability. I am still the only female MD of a waste management company in London today.

Although times have changed, decision makers and leaders are still more commonly men and a lot of women are still in more junior or supportive roles. In many cases this is our own doing and does not have to be the norm – women apply for fewer and less senior jobs than men. I find this when I am recruiting and promoting. If a female team member believes she does not meet all the criteria for the job, she won’t apply, whereas a male team member would have no hesitation.

We need to start shouting about our successes more and set aside thoughts that we are inferior. It is not always easy though and there are always people ready to criticise – we need to challenge that.

Having experienced the obstacles women face first hand, I try to inspire other women to enter the industry. But there comes a point when you have to say, “Come on, ladies, you are more than capable, so step out of your comfort zone.”

As for female leaders, we not only have to ‘be the change’, but we also have to let others ‘see the change’ in order for them to join us.

For the full article, see the April edition of Demolition Hub Magazine.

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