The global Infrastructure Construction industry currently has a female workforce ratio of 10% to 14%, while in India it is 8% to 12%. However, the representation of women in senior managerial roles is less than 2% - both globally and in India.
Minimol Korulla - Head - Strategic Projects and Strategic Initiatives, Maccaferri ISEAP
The absence of women in key positions has led to a biased and unbalanced approach across the construction industry at all levels.
The lack of women representation can be attributed to a lack of encouragement and support for women to enter the construction field, as well as biases among decision-makers who tend to assign women to only secretarial or support functions.
One common misconception is that women are incapable of handling complex contractual or financial/legal aspects of the construction industry. This has resulted in women being overlooked for challenging and rewarding roles. Additionally, decision-makers often view women as caretakers and are hesitant to assign critical roles that may require consistent availability.
Despite the challenging and biased approach of the construction industry towards women and the lack of adequate facilities for them at construction sites, many confident and determined women are breaking barriers and taking on leadership roles.
Women are excelling in the field and demonstrating that they are just as capable as their male counterparts, if not better in some ways. While the overall percentage of women in the construction industry may not be increasing significantly, the quality of leadership roles for women is improving, which is a positive trend towards achieving balance in the industry.
It is essential to encourage and empower more women to take on leadership roles in the construction industry to promote diversity and equality. Women should not limit themselves to low-profile or design-related jobs but aim to upgrade their knowledge and skills to take on challenging roles. While the industry may still have a long way to go in terms of gender equality, it is important to acknowledge the progress that has been made and to continue to support and uplift women in the field.
Automation is positively impacting everyone’s experiences regardless of gender, provided they are embracing the new developments.
The construction industry provides ample opportunities to develop a diverse range of skills, including production, material management, logistics, site management, design, analysis, quantity surveying, geotech and hydraulics field investigation, and understanding contractual and legal aspects. It is a field that is closely connected to society, and being a part of it can help individuals improve their social skills, expand their network, gain awareness of local languages and cultures.
As technology and automation continue to advance, they have the potential to positively impact the experiences of all individuals in the construction industry, regardless of gender. However, this requires individuals to embrace these new developments and continually upgrade their knowledge to remain competitive. While there may be some job cuts due to automation, the overall quality increase and improved efficiency can lead to the creation of more productive and effective jobs.
Women engineers, technicians, and labourers should be provided a more encouraging and supportive environment.
In India, national and state level policies are being formed for inclusion of women in industrial jobs. Additionally, many companies are implementing measures to ensure gender equality in their workplaces. However, there is a need for significant improvement in government policies to create a more encouraging environment and provide support to women engineers, technicians, and laborers.
One way to achieve this is by ensuring that adequate infrastructure is in place to support women who have to travel for work. This includes availability of clean and safe guest houses and resting places in every state. Furthermore, there should be a liberal approach to upskilling and knowledge updating for women in the industry, which could be supported at the government level.
As the design director for Maccaferri, one of the most challenging projects I was involved in was the Uttarakhand landslide mitigation project for the Ministry of Road Transport.
This project was a landmark achievement in the field of disaster management and civil construction; our team of engineers and technicians worked tirelessly day and night to develop designs and drawings that met the changing requirements of the client.
The project presented many challenges, particularly for our young engineering teams who were sent to the site. They faced adverse weather conditions, lack of transportation and internet access, and health hazards. However, I am proud to say that many of my female engineering colleagues, including Shabana, Kinjal, Roshan, Sneha, Anusha, and Meenu, played critical roles in bringing this project to Maccaferri and executing it to the highest standards.