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Over a decade after pay discrimination became illegal in the UK following the Equality Act 2010, there still lies a prominent pay gap between men and women. 

Women working in full-time roles in the UK are working for 8.6% less than their male co-workers *1and as a result their retirement fund is significantly smaller than their male peers. 

Unfortunately, the construction industry reported the largest gender pay gap of any sector in 2021-22 *2. Women currently working in construction are expected to earn roughly 76p for every £1 a male construction worker earns. 

The gender pay gap explained:

Put simply, the gender pay gap is a measure of how we value the contributions of both men and women in the workforce. This is most commonly shown as a percentage or sometimes, a monetary figure that shows the difference between the average earnings of men and women. 

The median pay gap is considered the best way to measure the differences in pay across a whole industry. This is worked out by taking the mean (average) hourly pay for men and subtracting the mean hourly pay for women. Divide the result by the mean hourly pay for men. Multiply the result by 100.

Why is there a sizable gender pay gap in the construction industry? 

This has been a historic problem within the industry as it has long been male-dominated. Despite women working in construction since the 17th Century *3, the industry remains a male-dominated field and the wages unfortunately reflect this. 

Women account for just over 14% of workers and very few of them are in higher-paid senior roles *2. However, there are some encouraging figures, with women now making up over a third of the graduates going into the UK construction industry *2 the hope is that this will help to spark some change. 

How do some contractors fare? 

There are a few contractors who have been open about their pay gaps, such as Balfour Beatty, one of the UK’s biggest construction contractors. They reported a median gender pay gap of 21.2% meaning that their male employees are earning 20% more on average than women *2. Despite both of these figures being higher than in previous years, there is a sign that the company has been slowly reducing its pay gap.

On a more positive note, there have been some companies who have shown their commitment to change. BAM Construction UK and Winvic Construction have both voiced their commitment to change. 

The companies that showed the greatest improvement were Mace and ISG, which closed the gap by 15 and 7 per cent, respectively *4. Within Mace, they also saw the biggest progress when it came to the number of women in top pay bands, with only 7% in 2017 and 30% in 2022 *4. 

What is being done to close the gender pay gap? 

Even though we are seeing more women joining the construction industry, it is still a very male-heavy field. Most of these women are working in manual labour roles with only a few working in managerial positions, this means that their average pay will be lower in comparison to men who are working in higher-paid roles. 

However, education is a vital component in encouraging females to work within the construction division, and if we could share the potential career paths whilst they are in education, we may find that more females take on higher-paid roles within the construction industry. Whilst there may be some other areas that may need considering, this might be a good start for the construction industry and allow the sector to open up to a wider pool of talent and skill sets that we have not yet tapped into

  1. Ciphr
  2. WorkingMums 
  3. FamilyHandyMan
  4. ConstructionManagement

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