A Pathway to Success: Women In Construction
By Adele Munro-Chambers, Site Supervisor
My motto is, if you think you can do something, give it a go. I’ve always wanted to work with my hands, so being female was never going to stop me. I’m Adele, trainee Site Supervisor at Sarah Constructions, and I want everyone to know there are loads of opportunities for women in construction.
Learning a trade
I didn’t always want to work in construction. I wanted to be a mechanic. I always loved tinkering with things with my dad. So, when I left school at 16, I got a job as a forklift driver for an automotive company.
After a while there, I realised I was never going to progress in my career. I needed an apprenticeship and when I saw an advertisement in the paper for a plumbing apprenticeship in the construction field, I applied.
My dad was a bit surprised I wanted to be a plumber, but he wished me luck anyway. Not many females applied for those jobs back then. Plus, I was a bit older than the other apprentices at 20. I think the company was curious to see what I could do, so they invited me in for a meeting.
I stood out. I got some good jobs because I think people wanted to test me. That worked in my favour. Every task I was given, I did it. So I was able to prove myself. They quickly saw I was just as good, if not better, than my male counterparts.
Working on construction sites
I was plumbing for nearly 14 years and reached Site Supervisor level. But I wanted to challenge myself further, so I applied for the Site Supervisor trainee position at Sarah Constructions.
What I’m doing now is so different to site supervision for the plumbing company. Then, I was concentrating on only one trade and liaising with fewer people. The scheme of things was quite small.
Now I’m site supervising for Sarah Constructions, my remit is much broader. I’m dealing with lots of different contractors and service trades, so that’s all quite new to me.
Developing new skills
I only started two months ago so I’m still learning on the job. There’s something new every day, and that’s probably the best part for me.
I’m using totally different skills to when I started out in the construction industry. I still feel like I need to fix things with my hands, but the skills you use daily as a Site Supervisor are quite different.
At the moment, I spend my day organising pre-pour checks, making phone calls and ensuring paperwork is completed. I always had pretty good organisational skills but this job is definitely improving them.
In fact, when I consider my career in construction, I think I’ve done so well partly because of the skills I possess as a woman. My strong interpersonal skills have helped. When you’re liaising with lots of different people, it’s important to be able to see things from their point of view. I think that’s why females are so good in these positions.
Equal opportunities at Sarah Constructions
Sarah Constructions hired me based on my previous experience, my desire to work hard and my aspirations to progress my career. I’m not at a disadvantage because of my sex; everyone is given a fair go. What Adrian says about there being opportunities for women at Sarah Constructions rings true as far as I’m concerned.
I’m lucky in being broad shouldered with the physical strength to do things men can do. But you certainly don’t have to be physically strong to be given a chance. It’s not about manual labour these days.
There are many ways to get into the construction industry and different roles you can do. You can train and get experience in management or engineering, finance or occupational health and safety. There’s also project management.
If you think you can do it, just go for it! You’ll be surprised. There are companies out there, like Sarah Constructions, that provide real opportunities for, and want females in their workforce. It’s absolutely worth having a go.
Women in construction can succeed
Maybe I felt like the odd one out to start off with, but now I’ feel like a valued team member. Everyone knows I’ve got a trade background and I’ve worked in construction for many years, so I know my stuff. And here, everyone’s opinion matters.
Perhaps from the outside looking in, it still seems as though construction isn’t an industry for women. But for women actually working in construction right now, that’s just not the case; there’s definitely respect and reward for women in construction.