Gender-based discrimination, the harsh work environment of construction sites, lack of knowledge about the industry, and a shortage of successful women in construction as role models, present significant barriers to entry for women.
Dr. Ambika Behl - Principal Scientist, Flexible Pavement Division, CSIR-Central Road Research Institute
For women professionals it is often a challenge to earn the same amount of respect and trust despite doing the same work with diligence.
In India, the construction industry continues to be a male-dominated field, presenting challenges for women professionals striving to earn the same respect and belief as their male counterparts. While women engineers bring dedication and innovation to their work, they often face a trust deficit in the initial years. However, as they deliver projects successfully, they gain the trust and respect in this industry.
Construction sites often require working at odd hours and at remote locations, which can be physically and socially challenging for women due to poor roads, extreme weather conditions, limited road sanitary infrastructure, unsociable work hours, and exposure to hazards. Despite these obstacles, women have a significant role to play in the construction industry and can build successful careers within it.
My advice to anyone entering the field of civil engineering, regardless of gender, is to not dream of a white-collar job in an air-conditioned office. As infrastructure creators, you must perform well in the field to advance your career.
As a woman who has worked in the civil engineering field for over 16 years, I have had my fair share of challenges, learning experiences, and exciting projects. During my tenure at CRRI, I have developed various processes, technologies, and materials while also engaging in R&D projects. I have also worked on sustainable road construction technologies, which involved working on highway construction sites across various regions and states of the country.
The initial years were undoubtedly challenging, but they provided me with a lot of learning opportunities that helped me develop my skills. With strong resilience and determination, I learned to work through all the challenges and emerged stronger.
From my experience, I believe that anyone, regardless of gender, who wants to work in the civil engineering field must believe in themselves and have perseverance. Once you set your aim, do not give up easily. As infrastructure creators, you must perform well in the field to raise your career. The closer you are to the field, the more you can learn and excel.
Automation has made previously challen- ging tasks easier, improved productivity, and addressed labor shortages.
Advancements in automation have significantly helped women in the construction industry. I remember when I first started designing asphalt mixes, even a small task would seem daunting. The compactors were manual, and lifting the hammer to cast one sample was challenging. I often needed assistance to complete the task. However, now the compactors are automatic, and with just the push of a button, we can cast numerous samples in a day. No doubt, automation has made the job much easier. I used to struggle to cast five samples a day, but now we can cast many more in the same amount of time.
According to a recent survey, digital transformation is a top priority for almost all construction companies. New technologies offer opportunities to enhance productivity and make construction jobs easier. They also help to address labor shortages and open doors for women in this field. With digital transformation and automation, women in construction have access to tools that make their jobs easier, more efficient, and less physically demanding.